Jeffs Advance to NCAA Sectionals with 96-74 Win Over John Jay

Lord Jeff
The Lord Jeffs are headed to the NCAA Sectionals once again. 

AMHERST, MA – The Amherst College men’s basketball team tipped off against visiting John Jay College this evening in the second round of the 2008 NCAA Division III Championship Tournament. The defending national champions received an opening-round bye for the seventh straight year before knocking off the visiting Bloodhounds at LeFrak Gymnasium, 96-74. The Lord Jeffs will take on Richard Stockton College in the Sectional Semifinals.

The Bloodhounds made school history with the first NCAA win in any sport, as they upset Moravian 80-74 on the road in Thursday night’s first-round game.

Amherst started the game with back-to-back lay-ups from senior Kevin Hopkins (Greenfield Center, NY) and junior Brian Baskauskas (Palo Alto, CA). Baskauskas was fouled in the act for a three-point play to give the Jeffs an early 5-2 lead. The Bloodhounds responded with a 5-0 run to take the lead after three consecutive Amherst turnovers.

The Lord Jeffs turned to senior leading scorer Fletcher Walters (Ann Arbor , MI) for a response to the John Jay run as the swingman scored five straight points. The Bloodhounds tied the game at 10-10 on a three from the Miguel Garcia with 14 minutes to play.

At the midpoint of the first half, Amherst jumped out to a 25-16 lead on a triple by Walters from the right wing, before a hard three-point play by the senior. The single free throw gave Walters 13 points in just a quarter of the game.

By the 7:42 mark of the half, the Lord Jeffs had opened up a 31-18 lead on strong play off the bench from senior Matt Goldsmith (Morristown, NJ), junior Mike Holsey (Potomac, MD) and sophomore Steven Wheeler (Bloomington, MN).

The second unit for Amherst powered the Jeffs to a near-20-point advantage before handing the game back to the starters to finish the half. The starting lineup for Amherst took back to the floor with a renewed energy off the spark the bench provided, and it showed immediate dividends. Senior captain Andrew Olson (San Diego, CA) set up the top plays of the half with three dunks in the final four possessions by Jones and Hopkins.

Amherst closed the half out on a 19-2 run over the final 5:46 to take a 59-32 lead into the locker room. Walters finished the frame with 13 points to lead all players, while Olson finished with a double-double on 10 points and 10 assists. Garcia paced the Bloodhounds with eight points in 18 minutes of action.

The Lord Jeffs started the second half right where they left off on a 9-2 run, capped by a half-court ally-oop from Olson to Hopkins for a reverse slam.

After a little more than 10 minutes of second-half action, John Jay hung with the Lord Jeffs step-for-step, trailing Amherst just 21-20 in scoring for the frame. The effort was a resilient sign from the Bloodhounds who could have easily packed it in at halftime down big.

Back-to-back three balls from Godfrey Mascall and Vaughn Mason cut the margin to 20 points at the seven-minute mark. Amherst responded with a 7-3 run that included a baseline jam from Wheeler to push the Jeffs closer to the century mark, leading 94-69. 

John Jay dribbled the game out on a 96-74 win for the Lord Jeffs, as Amherst sealed a place in the Sectional semifinals next weekend. Amherst had four players finish in double-digits, including a pair of double-doubles. Walters led all players with 24 points and eight rebounds, while Olson had 12 points and 12 assists and Jones had 15 points and 10 boards.

The Bloodhounds saw Mascall drop an impressive 21 points on 8-for-12 shooting, while Garcia scored a dozen. John Jay’s season closes with a 14-16 mark, while Amherst improves to 24-3.