Lord Jeffs Fall to Elms, 88-79, for First-Ever PVC Loss

Conor Meehan scored 21 points and had nine
assists in the losing effort.

From an Elms College release

CHICOPEE, MA – The 13th-ranked Amherst College men’s basketball team fell to No. 20 Elms College this evening in the 2009 Pioneer Valley Classic, 88-79. Blazers senior forward Javon Mathis poured in a game-high 22 points and added 10 rebounds to help lift Elms to the win.

With the win, Elms moves to 5-0 on the season, while Amherst lost for the first time in the Pioneer Valley Classic (16-1) and the first time this season to slide to 3-1 overall. The Blazers’ victory was the first-ever over Amherst, and was also the squad’s first victory over a ranked opponent since they topped No. 19 WPI on Dec. 14, 2008.

Trailing 47-38 at halftime, Amherst started the second frame with a 10-4 run to pull to within three at 51-48 before Elms responded with a 10-0 run of its own. Mathis started the stretch with a layup, followed by a pair of free throws from junior guard Robert Hargrove. Elms point guard Juan Maldonado and first-year guard Andre French each drained three-pointers to give the Blazers a 61-48 lead with 12:26 left in the contest.

The Lord Jeffs cut their deficit to five at 63-58 when sophomore Taylor Barrise (Allendale, NJ) buried a trey at the 9:54 mark, but the Blazers quickly extended their lead back to 10 at 72-62 with 6:41 left.

French netted two free throws to give Elms another 13-point lead at 77-64 with just 1:48 remaining. Amherst rallied when senior tri-captain Steven Wheeler (Bloomington, MN) hit from beyond the arc to start a 13-6 run over the next 1:16 to cut the lead to 83-77. Wheeler connected for two more three-pointers while Conor Meehan (Meriden, CT) added a pair of jumpers during the span.

From there, the Blazers took advantage of opportunities at the stripe as first-year guard Brittain Purcelle and French drained two free throws each, while senior forward Antoine Holder  added one to help seal the hard-fought victory.

Elms jumped out to an early 9-0 advantage to start the game and didn’t relinquish the lead. Amherst tied the game once but could not push ahead.  The Lord Jeffs knotted the game at 25-25  with 7:23 remaining in the opening stanza but a 22-13 run gave Elms a 47-38 cushion at intermission.

Mathis scored 13 of his 22 points in the first half, while Maldonado added seven of his 12 points during first period action. Elms converted on 32 of 45 free throws for the game, as Purcelle went 9-for-10 from the stripe, while Mathis finished 10-of-16 from the line. French finished with 12 points and was a perfect 6-of-6 from the free throw line, while Purcelle and Hargrove contributed 11 and 10 points, respectively, in the winning effort.

Meehan sparked Amherst’s offensive effort, scoring a team-best 21 points while handing out a career-high nine assists. Wheeler hit four treys and finished with 15 total points, while Barrise and rookie Allen Williamson (Saugus, MA) added 10 points each in the loss.