Amherst Survives Scare Against MIT; Jeffs Hang on for 66-60 Win

Junior Brian Baskauskas scored 10 of his team-high 16 points in the second half.

AMHERST, MA – The top-ranked Amherst College men’s basketball team faced off this evening in non-conference action against the visiting M.I.T. Engineers in LeFrak Gymnasium. Amherst trailed at the half for the first time this season but came from behind in the second half to win, 66-60.

The Engineers jumped out to an early 11-6 lead in just four minutes of action before Amherst senior Kevin Hopkins (Greenfield Center, NY) cut the lead with a three-point play down low.

M.I.T. forced Amherst into a timeout at the 13:25 mark with a 17-11 advantage. The Engineers were paced early by an impressive 6-for-6 start to the game from Jimmy Bartolotta to stay in front.

The Lord Jeffs cut M.I.T.’s lead in half on a three pointer from senior captain Andrew Olson (San Diego, CA) before classmate Brandon Jones (Hopatcong, NJ) finished inside to close to 18-19.

Junior Brian Baskauskas (Palo Alto, CA) knotted the game up at 21 apiece, only to have Bartolotta drain a pair of consecutive threes in response. The scores left M.I.T. holding a 27-21 advantage with 4:57 remaining in the first half.

The Lord Jeffs looked sloppy in the final few minutes of the half, finishing the frame with 13 team turnovers. Bartolotta led all scorers with 16 first half points, while the Engineers held a 34-26 edge at the break to leave Amherst trailing at half for the first time this season.

Amherst went on a 16-6 run to tie the game at 42-42 during the first five minutes of the second half, sparked by five consecutive points from Olson, before the guard dished out two straight assists.

Amherst took its first lead since early in the game on an impressive inbound play from below the hoop. Hopkins was unable to throw down a low ally-oop feed, but Jones followed behind with the tip-in.

Olson gave Amherst a 47-44 lead with 13 minutes to play on a three-pointer from at least six feet behind the line. Baskauskas followed Olson’s lead and hit a three of his own from the right corner, and then another from the right wing.

First-year Conor Meehan (Meriden, CT) filled in for Olson midway through the second half and gave the Lord Jeffs a 55-46 lead with a pair of made free throws.

The Engineers closed the gap to four points at 62-58 with less than two minutes to play. After Amherst nearly committed a shot-clock violation, Bartolotta hit a lay-up to shrink the lead to just two points.

With the game on the line, Bartolotta missed a tough running hook, and Hopkins snatched the rebound and was fouled with 31.8 seconds left in regulation. After a pair of misses at the line, Bartolotta aired on an off-balance three with 15 seconds remaining.

Jones took the ensuing inbound on two consecutive possessions and knocked down four free throws to ice the game for Amherst, 66-60.

Bartollotta led all scorers on the day with 27 points and six rebounds. Baskauskas paced Amherst with 16 points, while Olson and Jones each dropped 13 points.

With the win, Amherst improves to 6-0, while M.I.T. falls to 6-3. The Lord Jeffs will travel east on Saturday to face third-ranked Brandeis University at 4:00 p.m.