Jeffs Headed to NCAA Sectional Finals with 85-77 Win Over Richard Stockton

Senior Andrew Olson led the Lord Jeffs with 24 points in the NCAA sectional semifinal round. 

PLATTSBURGH, NY – The Amherst College men’s basketball team jumped out to a 17-0 lead in the NCAA Tournament sectional semifinal round and held on for a 85-77 victory over Richard Stockton College at sectional host Plattsburgh State University. The Lord Jeffs improve to 25-3 on the season and will take on Brandeis University Saturday at 7 p.m. with a trip to the national semifinals on the line. The Ospreys end their season with a 22-7 record.

Amherst forced Richard Stockton to call a timeout less than three minutes into the game after senior Fletcher Walters (Ann Arbor, MI) and senior captain Andrew Olson (San Diego, CA) buried three pointers on back-to-back possessions to give the Jeffs an early 8-0 lead. Amherst came out of the timeout in similar fashion, as senior Brandon Jones (Hopatcong, NJ) knocked down a three to increase the lead to 11-0.

A second timeout by the Ospreys came just one minute later when Walters connected on his second attempt from beyond the arc, but once again the stoppage of play failed to put a halt to the defending champions’ momentum, as junior Brian Baskauskas (Palo Alto, CA) hit from long range to bump the lead to 17-0. Richard Stockton finally got on the board on its next possession but was answered by another pair of threes from Walters, whose hot hand helped the Jeffs take a 25-8 lead after nine minutes of first-half action.

The Ospreys switched to a full-court press that seemed to give Amherst some trouble and the Ospreys went on a 7-0 run to cut their deficit to 12 points, but the Jeffs pulled right back and brought their lead to a game-high 18 points.

Whenever the Ospreys seemed to be making a run, Amherst responded with the long ball. Olson wowed fans with his range for the second time of the first half when he spotted up from 30 feet away and made his job look easy. Richard Stockton was never able to creep to within striking distance and headed into the locker room trailing 42-30.

Senior guard Mario Lancioni opened the second half with a three-pointer from the top of the arc and the Ospreys quickly followed up with an easy lay-in and a long ball from Jerome Hubbard to open the second frame on an 8-0 run that cut the Jeffs’ lead to just four points. An Amherst turnover led to another easy lay-in for the Ospreys, who needed just three minutes to bring their deficit from 12 points to two points.

Senior Matt Goldsmith (Morristown, NJ) provided big buckets on back-to-back possessions for the Jeffs—the first came after a no-look pass from Olson underneath the hoop and the second when Goldsmith was in the act of shooting, but the big man could not convert on the three-point play.

Lancioni’s younger brother, Santini, hit a three to make it a 59-55 game with 11 minutes to play in regulation, but Goldsmith was once again sent to the line on the next possession. Goldsmith knocked down both attempts from the stripe to give his team a six-point lead.

The Ospreys drew an offensive foul when trailing by only four points, but Olson used some heads-up play to steal the ensuing in-bounds pass and draw a shooting foul, as the senior captain moved the lead back up to six points with his pair of free throws.

Senior Jon Greene used some great moves in the paint to hit a tough lay-up and draw the foul from Jones, as his three-point play capped a 5-0 run that had the Ospreys trailing 66-62 with 7:11 left to play. Amherst once again responded with a run of its own, as a trio of free throws were followed by another long ball from Olson and a pair of lay-ins from Baskauskas, as the Jeffs suddenly led by 12.

Things began to unravel for Richard Stockton when an intentional foul was followed by a technical foul, allowing Amherst to take a 79-64 advantage with only four minutes remaining in the game. The Jeffs were able to knock significant time off the clock on each remaining possession, as they hung on for the 85-77 victory.  

Olson matched his career high with 24 points on 7-of-9 shooting on the night to lead all scorers, while Walters chalked up 20 points, six assists and six boards. Baskauskas and Jones also finished in double figures with 14 and 12 points, respectively, with Goldsmith adding nine points and six rebounds. 

The Ospreys also had four players in double figures, with Greene scoring 16 and Mario Lancioni chipping in with 14 points and eight assists.