Amherst Stays Perfect with 86-68 Win at Westfield State

Steve Wheeler '10 knocked down four 3-pointers and finished with a team-high 20 points.

WESTFIELD, MA – Senior tri-captain Steve Wheeler (Bloomington, MN) scored 20 points and sophomore David Waller (Tampa, FL) added 18 to lead the nationally-ranked Amherst College men’s basketball team to an 86-68 victory over Westfield State College on Tuesday, Dec. 1. The Lord Jeffs—ranked 13th in this week’s national poll—improve to 3-0, while the Owls fall to 4-1.

Leading 36-31 at halftime, Amherst put away the game with a 23-3 run in the opening five minutes of the second half for its biggest lead, 59-34. During that dominating stretch, Waller and Wheeler scored seven and 10 points, respectively, with sophomore Taylor Barrise (Allendale, NJ) adding six of his own. Wheeler and Waller—both talented 6-6, 215-pound forwards—scored 24 of their combined 38 points in the decisive second half.

Joining Wheeler and Waller in double figures for the Lord Jeffs were Barrise (11) and junior tri-captain Conor Meehan (Meriden, CT). In addition to scoring 10 points, Meehan grabbed five rebounds, dished out six assists, blocked two shots and came up with a pair of steals. Barrise and teammate Jeff Holmes (Saunderstown, RI) were the leading rebounders in the game with seven boards apiece. Holmes also blocked three shots to tie his career best.

Amherst shot 52 percent from the field, including 7-for-17 from 3-point range. Wheeler, Waller, Barrise and Meehan were a combined 21-of-33 from the floor (63.6 percent).

There were 51 personal fouls whistled in the game, 28 on Westfield. Amherst was a solid 25-of-33 from the foul line (75.8 percent), while the Owls made 20 of their 27 free throws (74.1 percent).

Westfield junior guard Anthony Griffin tied for game-high scoring honors with 20 points. Senior guard Derek Leab scored 12 points and senior forward Asa Abbott added 11.

Waller’s 18 points marked a new career high, surpassing the 16 he scored against archrival Williams as a first-year. Also putting in a solid performance for Amherst was first-year Willy Workman (Northampton, MA), who totaled six points, five rebounds, two assists, a block and a steal.

The Lord Jeffs will return to action Friday, Dec. 4 when they kick off the Pioneer Valley Classic with a 6:30 p.m. game at 20th-ranked Elms College (4-0). Amherst’s weekend will wrap up Saturday with a 4 p.m. contest against Springfield College (1-4) at Elms.