Amherst Falls to Williams at Home, 81-60

David Waller '12 led Amherst with 12 points in the loss.

AMHERST, MA – The Amherst College men’s basketball team played host to 2nd-ranked archrival Williams College this evening in front of a capacity crowd of over 1,600 fans, ultimately falling 81-60 to their conference foes. The loss drops Amherst to 14-9 overall and 3-5 in the NESCAC, while the Ephs improve to 22-1 (8-0) to clinch the top seed in the upcoming conference tournament.

Amherst jumped out to an early 10-3 lead as sophomore David Waller (Tampa, FL) asserted himself in the first few minutes. Williams responded with a pair of scores from James Wang and Joe Geoghegan to cut the margin down to three points, before Waller scored back-to-back Amherst baskets to keep the Lord Jeffs on top.

Through the middle of the half, Amherst’s lead moved between three and seven points through a long period of play. Playing as many as four rookies at a time, Amherst head coach David Hixon ’75 was able to get great production out of a very young lineup in a heated environment. With just over six minutes to play in the frame, Spencer Noon (Unionville, CT) made a tough runner off the glass in the lane to leave Amherst up 28-22.

The Ephs answered back with a three from Alex Rubin and another Wang score to close to one point, before Waller sprung rookie Allen Williamson (Saugus, MA) on a fast break for a one-handed tomahawk dunk that brought the entire gym to its feet. Williamson made a jumper from the left side with 3:55 remaining to put Amherst back up five at 32-27, before Williams closed the half on a 12-5 run.

After tying the score twice at 36-36 and 37-37, Williams was able to take its first lead of the game as the halftime buzzer sounded. After a missed Troy Whittington free throw with 0.7 seconds showing, William Hardy tipped the rebound up and in to send Amherst into the break trailing 39-37. At the half, Amherst was led by Waller with 10 points, while Geoghegan and Wang paced the Ephs with 11 and 10, respectively.

During the first four minutes of the second half the Ephs came out gunning, going on a 13-3 run to take a 52-40 lead. The Williams scoring spurt was sparked by a trio of long-range shots from Harlan Dodson and Blake Schultz. After a timeout, Amherst was unable to stop the Williams gunners and a Rubin three with just under 11 minutes remaining put the Ephs up 59-44.

Peter Kaasila (Plaistow, NH) scored with 13:50 to play, and the Lord Jeffs did not score again until a Kaasila free throw with 8:41 showing. The Ephs turned to Schultz for a lift, and the senior forward made a number of free throws and a deep triple from the left corner. Amherst’s next field goal did not come for seven full minutes, until Noon made a nice step-back jumper in the lane.

The Lord Jeffs were never able to recover from the Williams run that started the half, and ultimately fell 81-60. The Ephs out-scored Amherst 47-23 in the second half, led by Schultz’s 19, Wang’s 18 and Geoghegan’s 17 points and 10 rebounds. Waller led Amherst with 12 points and five rebounds in the loss, while Steven Wheeler (Bloomington, MN), Kaasila and Williamson each added eight points.

The Lord Jeffs will return to action tomorrow afternoon for 2010 Senior Day when Middlebury comes to town at 4 p.m. Senior tri-captains Wheeler and DJ Carcieri (Narragansett, RI) will be honored prior to the tip.