Jeffs Pull Out 65-60 Win at Williams in Non-Conference Play

Brian Baskauskas led Amherst to a 65-60 win
at Williams with 17 points.
WILLIAMSTOWN, MA – The 5th-ranked Amherst College men’s basketball team took to the road this afternoon for a non-conference match-up at NESCAC and Little Three archrival Williams College. Amherst pulled out a hard-fought 65-60 win in front of 1,500 fans at a rocking Chandler Gymnasium in Williamstown.

After the Ephs started the game with a pair of consecutive scores, Amherst first-year David Waller (Tampa, FL) responded with a nice three-point play. Junior Steven Wheeler (Bloomington, MN) put Amherst up 6-4 on a deep triple with a man in his face.

On back-to-back possessions, Williams’ forward Blake Schultz drained threes from the left side to put the Ephs up 14-10, forcing Amherst head coach David Hixon ’75 to call a timeout. Coming out of the timeout, senior co-captain Brian Baskauskas (Palo Alto, CA) scored to close the gap to 14-12.

With 9:39 to play, Amherst senior Glenn Wong (Leverett, MA) made a runner in the lane to break a 14-14 tie. After Wong’s deep three on the next possession rimmed out, Waller followed with a nice offensive rebound and put-back. Schultz answered with a reverse lay-up for Williams to tie the game 18-18 with 7:25 to play.

The Ephs regained the lead on a nice post move from Troy Whittington, putting Williams up 22-21. A pair of Kevin Snyder free throws put the Ephs up 24-21 with 4:48 to play. Baskauskas answered for Amherst with a slashing drive, and finish at the rim past Whittington, who returned the favor on the ensuing trip down the court. First-year Taylor Barrise (Allendale, NJ) tied the game 26-26 with a three from the left corner on the next possession.

A broken Amherst play resulted in a tip-in from Barrise with less than five seconds to play in the half. The score sent the Jeffs to the locker room trailing 30-28. Baskauskas was the high-scorer for Amherst at the break with eight points.

Early in the second half, Harlan Dodson drilled a pair of threes to stretch the Williams advantage to 38-33, before Baskauskas answered with a triple of his own from the top of the key. Wheeler was fouled on his way to the rim, and knocked down a pair at the charity stripe to tie the game 38-38 with 14:22 to go.

With 12:20 to go, Waller brought the Amherst traveling fans to their feet with an emphatic two-handed dunk on a long ally-oop inbounds pass from Baskauskas. After Joe Geoghegan made a jumper from the left side, a one-for-two trip to the line from sophomore Conor Meehan (Meriden, CT) put the Jeffs up 45-44.

With seven minutes to play in the second half, Amherst was still holding onto a small 48-46 lead. After a Williams free throw, Baskauskas knocked down a mid-range jumper to put the Jeffs up 50-47, before Snyder tied the game with a triple.

Meehan broke the tie with a nice and-one play after spinning past Dodson on a drive. After a missed three from Wheeler, first-year Jeff Holmes (Saunderstown, RI) drew a charge on the defensive end to keep the lead at 53-50 with 3:26 to play.

Amherst took a 57-51 lead with 2:02 to play on a beautiful turnaround jumper from the elbow by Baskauskas. The Amherst margin shrunk to four points, before Holmes added a bucket inside and was fouled. Holmes missed the free throw, but the Jeffs fouled Schultz on the rebound.

After a pair at the line by the Eph junior, Amherst was whistled for five seconds, giving Williams possession down 59-55 with just over a minute to play. With 1:00 showing on the clock, Schultz made a pair at the line to close the gap to 59-57.

The Jeffs called a timeout with 39.8 seconds to play in the second half, holding the same 59-57 lead. Amherst put the ball in play from the left side at half court, with a designed play sent in from the bench. The ball made its way into the hands of Meehan, slashing to the hoop. The sophomore point guard made a contested lay-up with 28.0 to play, putting Amherst up 61-57.

Williams’ Geoghegan looked certain to throw down a dunk and cut Amherst’s lead in half, but Amherst fouled at the rim to prevent the score. Geoghegan made one at the line. Amherst’s Marcus Bradley (Latham, NY) was fouled on the ensuing inbounds pass, and made a pair of free throws to put Amherst up 63-58.

Schultz went the length of the floor and made a floater with 4.2 to play, leaving Amherst up 63-60 with the ball underneath their own hoop. Meehan was fouled before the ball was put in play, but missed both free throws to ice the game. A Williams player fell out of bounds on the rebound, giving Amherst possession once again.

After another foul, Mike Holsey (Potomac MD) was given a chance to extend the lead at the line, but he missed both free throws. The Jeffs took the second miss, and made two final shots from the free throw line to ice the game 65-60, and pick up its tenth win of the season.

Baskaukas paced the Jeffs with 17 points, while Schultz had 22 for Williams. Waller, Wheeler and Meehan all hit double-digits for Amherst, combining for 33 points. Amherst will host Babson College on Monday night at 5:30 p.m. before opening NESCAC play next weekend.