Jeffs Take Regular-Season Sweep Over Williams With 86-70 Win

Kevin Hopkins had 20 points and six blocks in the win.

WILLIAMSTOWN, MA – Chandler Gymnasium was rocking on the campus of Williams College this afternoon when the third-ranked Lord Jeff men’s basketball team took the court to take on the 10th-ranked Ephs. Amherst completed the regular-season sweep of Williams with an impressive 86-70 win.

Williams took the opening tip and scored on two straight possessions for a 4-0 lead in less than a minute of play. After another Eph bucket, senior captain Andrew Olson (San Diego, CA) set up classmate Fletcher Walters (Ann Arbor, MI) for a three on the wing.

The game had a furious pace for the first few minutes, and at the 15:20 mark, senior Kevin Hopkins (Greenfield Center, NY) made his third straight shot down low to close to 12-11 in Williams’ favor. Deep in the shot clock, junior Brian Baskauskas (Palo Alto, CA) was nailed while shooting, sending him to the charity stripe for two shots. Baskauskas hit both free throws to close the gap to 15-13 with 13:34 to go in the half.

Amherst tied the game at 15-15 when Hopkins blocked a three-point attempt on the defensive end, then hit another lay-up in traffic down low. Hopkins started the game 5-of-8 for 10 points in the first eight minutes of play.

When Hopkins went to the bench, Baskauskas took over the scoring for Amherst with five straight points. Sophomore Steve Wheeler (Bloomington, MN) got into the mix for Amherst with a nice lay-in to give Amherst a 23-22 edge with 8:23 to play. After a bucket from Joe Geoghegan, Wheeler hit a deep three on the left wing to increase the lead to 26-24. After another Williams score, Wheeler buried another three from the left corner.

After a Williams timeout, Amherst forced the Ephs into a shot clock violation, and then capitalized on a three from first-year Conor Meehan (Meriden, CT). The Lord Jeffs looked to take advantage of Meehan’s height at point, and the rookie nailed another bucket in the post.

A jumper from Olson with just under a minute to play gave Amherst a 38-32 lead. After another Hopkins block, Olson found the 6’10” center trailing the fast break for the last score of the half. Amherst took a 40-32 advantage to the locker room riding a strong end-of-the-half push. Hopkins finished the frame with 12 points and five blocks, while Williams was led by Geoghegan’s 10 points.

Amherst went to Hopkins on the first possession of the second half, with the Ephs failing to find an answer for defending the big man during the break as he easily laid home another bucket. On the next trip, Hopkins was unable to get position deep in the lane, but showed his range with a nice turn-around jumper.

A 6-0 run from Williams forced Amherst head coach David Hixon ’75 to call a timeout with his squad up 44-41 with 16:57 to play. Walters picked up his third foul early on in the second half, but that only brought Wheeler off the bench.

After another block from Hopkins, the big man ran the floor well, and was rewarded with a feed from Olson for a wide-open dunk. Despite the crowd-pleasing score, Williams gave Amherst trouble in the half court set with a match-up zone.

Williams tied the game at 48-48, and Amherst took a timeout. Coming out of the break, the Lord Jeffs seemingly figured the zone out, and hit back-to-back threes from the left wing. After Williams broke the run with a nice finish inside from Kevin Snyder, Wheeler hit another triple from the corner.

Midway through the second half, Olson found classmate Matt Goldsmith (Morristown, NJ) on a back-door cut for a lay-up and then foul. With a made free-throw, Goldsmith gave Amherst an emotional lift and a 62-52 lead.

Olson assisted on a three from senior Brandon Jones (Hopatcong, NJ) for his 10th helper of the game. Amherst maintained the 10-point lead when Jones assisted on a dunk from the baseline by junior Mike Holsey (Potomac, MD).

Eph point guard Chris Shalvoy hit a pair of foul shots with 4:42 to play, cutting the Amherst advantage to 70-63. The score was the same when Amherst called a full timeout with 3:25 showing on the clock. The Jeffs came up with an important stop after the timeout, and then picked up a pair of free throws from Hopkins. On the next Williams possession, Hopkins hit the deck for a loose ball and wisely called for a timeout to avoid a jump ball.

With 1:50 to play, Olson intelligently traded an open lay-up with Eph defenders playing catch-up for an open three for Wheeler. After a Williams bucket, Amherst was able to score with the clock stopped on free throws by Walters. Up 10, the Lord Jeffs would be fouled immediately upon putting the ball in play. With 1:25, Olson hit another pair at the line.

With 47.6 remaining, Williams hit a three from the wing to cut the deficit to 81-70. That was the last bucket other than free throws, as Amherst closed out the win 86-70.

Hopkins scored a game-high 20 points and finished with six of Amherst’s 12 blocks. Wheeler had a career-high 19 points, while Baskauskas had 17 of his own. Despite scoring just four points, Olson had perhaps his best game of the season with 11 assists and just three turnovers. Williams was paced by Snyder’s 19 points and Geoghegan’s 17.

Amherst takes a regular-season sweep in the rivalry with the win, and improves to 16-2 overall (4-0 NESCAC).