Amherst Defeats Curry College 73-45 in 2008-09 Season Opener

Junior Steven Wheeler had a team-high 16 points
in Amherst's season-opening win.
AMHERST, MA – The 15th-ranked Amherst College men’s basketball team took to the court at LeFrak Gymnasium for its 2008 season opener against visiting Curry College this evening. Amherst cruised to an impressive 73-45 win to move to 1-0, while the Colonels drop to 0-1.

Amherst co-captain Brian Baskauskas (Palo Alto, CA) started his senior season off on the right foot, hitting a three pointer and a transition lay-up to put the Lord Jeffs up 5-0 early on. Junior Steve Wheeler (Bloomington, MN) and senior Marcus Bradley (Latham, NY) added three pointers of their own to help put Amherst up 13-0.

By the time the game was five minutes old, senior co-captain Mike Holsey (Potomac, MD) hit a reverse lay-up to put Amherst up 18-1. With 11:21 to play, Baskauskas found sophomore Kurt Bennett (Placerville, CA) underneath for a bucket to stretch the lead to 22-7.

Bennett pulled down an offensive board and finished the put back to put Amherst up 28-8 with just over six minutes to play in the first half. After a nice lay-up by Curry’s Quashed Simmons, first-year Lord Jeff Taylor Barrise (Allendale, NJ) hit a three for his first collegiate points.

A great block by sophomore Conor Meehan (Meriden, CT) gave junior D.J. Carcieri (Narragansett, RI) the chance to make a tough runner in transition going one against three. First-year Jeff Holmes (Pawtucket, RI) made a pair of buckets with just over a minute to play before half to put Amherst up 39-14.

At the half, Amherst held a commanding 39-18 lead with scoring spread out across nine players. Wheeler went to the locker room with a team-high eight points for the Jeffs, while Simmons had a game-high 12 points for Curry at the break.

The Colonels started the second half on a 5-0 run, before Baskauskas hit a three from the right wing and made a slashing lay-up in response. After a deep three by rookie David Waller (Tampa, FL), Holsey had an emphatic rejection, his third of the game. Baskauskas finished off a flourish for Amherst with a two-handed dunk in transition that brought Lord Jeff Nation to its feet.

With 12:06 to play, Amherst head coach David Hixon ’75 called a timeout to organize his troops up 51-31. Coming out of the timeout, Bennett and Wheeler helped carry Amherst to a 7-2 run, before Michael Connery responded with a triple for Curry.

Wheeler nailed a three pointer from 24 feet, before Bennett scored another basket in the paint. With just under eight minutes to play, Waller snagged a steal inside Amherst’s own half and went the distance for a one-handed slam that impressed everyone in LeFrak.

Senior Glenn Wong (Leverett, MA) had back-to-back rejections to spark transition baskets for Amherst, and with five minutes to play the Jeffs held a 71-38 advantage. Jacob Wren scored on consecutive possessions for Curry on a pair of polished post moves.

As the final seconds ticked off the clock, Amherst cruised to an impressive 73-45 victory. Wheeler finished with a team-high 16 points, with four rebounds in 21 minutes. Baskauskas added in 12 points to kick off his final season at Amherst. Rookies Waller, Barrise and Holmes combined to score 22 points in their collegiate debut. Simmons was the lone Colonel in double figures with a game-high 21 points, while Daniel Singh pulled down 10 rebounds in the game.

Amherst will welcome MCLA on Friday night at 6 p.m. to kick off the annual Ken Wright ’52 Memorial Tournament, and will face either Skidmore College or NYCCT on Saturday afternoon.