Amherst Moves to 6-1 in NESCAC with 84-70 Win at Tufts

From a Tufts University release

Senior Marcus Bradley had a career-high 18 points thanks to a 5-for-6 performance from the floor.
MEDFORD, MA - Sophomore Conor Meehan (Meriden, CT) scored 22 points with eight rebounds and five assists to lead the visiting Amherst College men's basketball team to an 84-70 win at Tufts University in NESCAC play on Saturday afternoon at Cousens Gymnasium.

The Lord Jeffs, ranked #20 in the national poll, did not trail in the game and improved to 18-4 overall and 6-1 in the league. Seniors Marcus Bradley (Latham, NY) and Brian Baskauskas (Palo Alto, CA) added 18 points apiece for the visitors, who won their second straight after a two-game losing slide.

Tufts junior co-captain Jon Pierce (Belmont, MA) scored a game-high 29 points and classmate Dave Beyel (Ocean City, NJ) had 22 for the hosts, who fell to 9-14 overall including 1-7 in NESCAC. The Jumbos, who were playing their last home game of the season, have now lost four straight.

The Lord Jeffs took a 12-7 lead six minutes into the game on two free throws by Meehan. He would finish the game 10 for 12 from the line. Two three-pointers 85 seconds apart by Bradley put Amherst up 18-11. Tufts was within five at 20-15 following a lay-up by freshman James Long (Norwell, MA) with 9:23 to go until halftime, but the Lord Jeffs used an 10-1 spurt to take a 30-16 advantage on a lay-up by Meehan at 6:02. Baskauskas had two threes during the run.

The Amherst margin was 12 at the half (37-25). Tufts shot just 23.7 percent (9/38) in the first 20 minutes. Baskauskas had 12 points at the break for the guests, while Beyel's nine led the Jumbos.

Tufts opened the second half by scoring seven of the first nine points to pull within seven (39-32) on a jumper by Pierce. Amherst responded with the next six points - four from freshman Jeff Holmes (Saunderstown, RI) - to go up 13 (45-32) with 15:29 to play. A 6-0 Tufts stretch later in the half led by four points from Beyel cut the gap to 49-42 Amherst at 12:50, but Bradley and freshman Taylor Barrise (Allendale, NJ) answered with three-pointers and the Jeffs had a 55-42 lead.

Four straight points from Pierce brought Tufts within single-digits again at 57-48 with 8:47 to go, but a pair of Meehan free throws and a lay-up by Baskauskas on the next two Amherst possessions made it 61-49. The Jumbos would get it to nine (79-70) again in the final minute on a three by Beyel, but Amherst comfortably made it to the final buzzer for the win.

The Lord Jeffs shot a sizzling 60 percent (12/20) and were 21 for 28 (75 percent) from the free throw line in the second half to hold their lead. Baskauskas added 10 rebounds for a double-double and Holmes finished with sevens in points and rebounds over 17 minutes played. The Lord Jeffs out-rebounded the Jumbos 43-35 for the game. They finished at 52 percent shooting overall (26/50) and 74.3 percent from the line (26/35).

Pierce played 39 minutes for Tufts and had eight rebounds. Beyel was good on five of eight three-point attempts. Together they accounted for 73 percent of the Tufts offense. The hosts were 22 for 67 from the floor=(32.8 percent) and 18 for 29 from the line (62.1 percent) for the game.

Both teams shot it well from long range, with Tufts connecting on eight of 20 threes (40 percent) and Amherst making good on six of 10 attempts (60 percent).

The Jumbos need a win in their regular-season finale at Bates next Saturday (Feb. 14) to have any chance at earning a NESCAC Tournament berth. Amherst is next in action when they host Williams on Friday night (Feb. 13), having already clinched a quarterfinal home game in the NESCAC Tournament.