Amherst to Host Trinity in NESCAC Quarterfinal Round

Junior Steven Wheeler returns to action after missing the final five games of the regular season.

For the first time since 2004 Amherst did not earn the top seed in the NESCAC Men’s Basketball Championship, as the second-seeded Lord Jeffs will host seventh-seeded Trinity College Saturday at 2 p.m. in the quarterfinal round.

Saturday’s game will feature a live webcast with video and audio, with live statistics also available. Tickets for the game are $3 for adults and $1 for students and will be sold at the doors to LeFrak Gymnasium, which will open at 12:30 p.m.

Amherst and Trinity have met in the conference tournament on four occasions, with the Jeffs coming out on top each time, including twice in the championship game. When these teams met earlier this year in the regular season, Amherst earned a 65-48 victory on the road.

Amherst recently snapped its streak of 104 consecutive weeks ranked in the Top 25 Poll, but after only one week as an unranked squad, the Lord Jeffs have climbed back to No. 23. The regular season wrapped up in impressive fashion, as Amherst earned a 71-64 victory over nationally-ranked Middlebury College to snap the Panthers’ 17-game winning streak.

Amherst welcomes back junior sharpshooter Steven Wheeler, who missed the final five games of the regular season due to injury. Wheeler started in the Jeffs’ first 19 games of the season and averaged 12.5 points per contest while shooting 86 percent from the charity stripe and 41 percent from beyond the arc.

A win over Trinity would give the Class of 2009 105 victories, which would tie for the third most by any graduating class in Amherst history. Also looking to move up in the Lord Jeff record books are senior co-captain Brian Baskauskas and head coach David Hixon ’75. While Baskauskas enters the postseason with 1,152 career points and needs only 26 more to move into 15th place on the all-time scoring list, Hixon is only four wins shy of reaching 600 for his career, as he has posted a 596-230 record in his 32 seasons.

Trinity (9-14, 4-5 NESCAC) has been one of the conference’s most intriguing teams throughout the season. While the Bantams are coming off an impressive weekend in which they took Middlebury to double overtime and earned an 83-73 upset win over Williams, they have yet to win back-to-back games this season. Four of Trinity’s losses have come in overtime and three others have come by five or fewer points. The Bantams are 6-6 in their last 12 games and will be looking to put together their first winning streak of the season in addition to defeating Amherst in the conference tournament for the first time.

2009 NESCAC Men’s Basketball Championship
Quarterfinal Round – Saturday, Feb. 21
No. 7 Trinity at No. 2 Amherst - 2 p.m.
No. 8 Connecticut College at No. 1 Middlebury - 3 p.m.
No. 6 Bates at No. 3 Williams - 3 p.m.
No. 5 Bowdoin at No. 4 Colby - 3 p.m.