Amherst Squeaks by Babson, 60-55

Junior Brian Baskauskas led all scorers with 14 points. 

Courtesy Babson Sports Information 

BABSON PARK, MA – The nationally-ranked Amherst College men’s basketball team took a 12-point lead with 6:22 left in regulation and then withstood a late Babson College comeback as the Lord Jeffs secured a 60-55 road victory over the Beavers at Staake Gymnasium on Saturday afternoon. With the win, Amherst, ranked fourth in the nation in the most recent poll, improved to 8-2 overall, while the Beavers, who were facing their third top-10 team of the season, saw their record slip to 3-8. 

Junior Brian Baskauskas (Pala Alto, CA) led all players with 14 points for Amherst, including a conventional three-point play that gave the Lord Jeffs their largest lead of the contest at 58-46 with 6:22 remaining. Senior Kevin Hopkins (Greenfield Center, NY) added 12 points, eight rebounds and three blocked shots, while senior Fletcher Walters (Ann Arbor, MI) tossed in 11 points to go along with five boards and four steals. Senior captain Andrew Olson (San Diego, CA) was the game’s assist leader with six.

Babson was led by the trio of junior Pat Belniak (Sutton, MA) and senior captains Kyle McDonald (Wethersfield, CT) and Chris Bradley (Mount Vernon, NY), who scored 11 points apiece. Belniak also paced the Beavers with seven rebounds, while junior Zach Etten (Hollis, NH) contributed 10 points and sophomore Peter Skogg (Orange, CT) added five points and four boards off the bench. 

Amherst never trailed in the first half, opening up a 12-4 lead in the first seven minutes en route to a 31-23 advantage at the break. Babson trailed by only three (26-23) after a jumper by McDonald with 5:04 remaining, but the Lord Jeffs held the Beavers scoreless over the remainder of the half to take the eight-point edge into the locker room.

Amherst still led by eight at 35-27 early in the second half before a big dunk by Bradley ignited a 10-1 Babson run that gave the Beavers their only lead of the game, 37-36, with 15 minutes left to play. Senior Brian MacDonald (Beverly, MA) drained a three and Etten added a jumper during the spurt, which was capped off by Bradley’s first three-pointer of the season. The lead would be short-lived, however, as Hopkins converted a lay-up just over a minute later to put the Lord Jeffs in front to stay. 

Leading by two with 12 minutes left, Amherst extended its advantage with back-to-back threes by Baskauskas and sophomore Steven Wheeler (Bloomington, MN) to go up 49-41. Wheeler then added another jumper to make it a 10-point game with 8:27 to go and, after the two teams traded baskets, Baskauskas’ three-point play pushed the visitors’ cushion to 12 with 6:22 on the clock. That would prove to be the Lord Jeffs’ final field goal of the contest, however, as the Babson defense forced four turnovers and six missed shots in the final six minutes.

Senior Greg Bush (East Islip, NY) started the Beavers’ comeback attempt with a lay-up at the four-minute mark and a pair of free throws at 3:38. Belniak then knocked down the first three-pointer of his collegiate career to cut the deficit to 58-53 with 2:40 remaining, and two more freebies by McDonald pulled the Beavers to within three with 1:34 left. However, that would be as close as the hosts would get, as Babson came up empty on its final three possessions and Olson sank a pair of free three throws with 14.4 seconds left for the 60-55 final.