Amherst Holds on for 100-97 Win Over Skidmore College for 8th Straight Ken Wright Title

Brian Baskauskas took home the M.V.P. honors.
AMHERST, MA – The 15th-ranked Amherst College men’s basketball team won its eighth consecutive Ken Wright ’53 Memorial Invitational Tournament title this afternoon with a 100-97 win over Skidmore College. Amherst built a large lead through the middle of the game, and held off a late charge from the Thoroughbreds for the win.

In the consolation game, NYCCT pulled away for a convincing 79-62 win over MCLA. Today’s championship game also features the first time Skidmore head coach, and former Amherst assistant, Luke Flockerzi returns to LeFrak Gymnasium to face the Lord Jeffs.

Skidmore jumped out to an early 7-4 lead in less than two minutes of action on a three from Gerard O’Shea on the left wing. An emotional Thoroughbred team forced Amherst head coach David Hixon ’75 into a timeout with 15:51 showing on the clock, after a three by Jon Douglas put Skidmore up 13-7.

Senior Marcus Bradley (Latham, NY) dropped in a deep three from the top of the key to close the gap to 13-12 just over six minutes into the game. First-year Taylor Barrise (Allendale, NJ) hit a long jumper from the baseline to put Amherst up 16-15 with 12 minutes to play in the frame.

After a pair of Skidmore free throws, Amherst junior Steven Wheeler (Bloomington, MN) finished a three-point play to tie the game at 19-19 with, 11 minutes remaining in the half. Skidmore took a 22-19 lead, only to see Amherst first-year Jeff Holmes (Pawtucket, RI) finish in the paint in response. Barrise hit a three from the left wing to tie the game at 24-24 on the next possession.

Amherst went on a 7-0 run, before Melvis Langyintuo made a three from the left side. The Jeffs refused to cool off, and rolled off another seven straight points to take a 38-27 lead with 5:27 to play. During the 19-6 run, senior Glenn Wong (Leverett, MA) made a pair of three pointers on the left wing, forcing Flockerzi to call a timeout.

Coming out of the stoppage, Langyintuo made another three from the right side to keep the Thoroughbreds just one scoring spurt away from tying the game once again. No such streak came for Skidmore in the first half, as Amherst pushed forward for a 48-34 halftime lead.

At the break, Barrise and Langyintuo each had 10 points to lead their respective teams, while Holmes pulled down 11 first-half rebounds, including seven on the offensive glass for Amherst.

As time ticked off in the second half, the Thoroughbreds were unable to make a dent in the Amherst advantage. With 13:33 to go, Amherst was still up 14 points, 61-47. By the mid-point of the second half, the Lord Jeff advantage sat at 71-54.

After Skidmore’s Bobby Langford gambled for a loose ball into the Amherst backcourt, the Jeffs made him pay with a three from Barrise on the wing. Terron Victoria scored six straight points for the Thoroughbreds with just over five minutes to play to close the gap to 81-68.

Skidmore’s Sam Cohen-Devries made a lay-up, before teammate Jeff Altimar stole the inbound for an easy score to cut the deficit down to 81-72. Skidmore went on a 16-2 scoring run, forcing Amherst into a timeout with 3:19 to play, up just five points.

A Skidmore three from Victoria closed the gap to four points, at 86-82 with two minutes remaining. The sides traded quick scores down low, before Amherst sophomore Conor Meehan (Meriden, CT) made a pair at the free throw line to put the Jeffs up 90-84. After two free throws from the Thoroughbreds, Meehan stepped up with a monumental three-point play on a close call.

Skidmore was forced to foul as soon as Amherst put the ball into play down the stretch, and the Lord Jeffs made the necessary shots at the charity stripe. Despite a pair of threes from Victoria that put Skidmore down just 98-94 with just five seconds to play, Skidmore came up just short in a strong comeback effort. A deep three from Skidmore at the buzzer let Amherst escape with a 100-97 win.

Victoria finished with a game-high 29 points for Skidmore, while Bradley finished with 17 points leading six Lord Jeff players in double-figures. Victoria was joined by Jon Douglas on the All Tournament Team for Skidmore, while Barrise and Baskauskas earned the honors for Amherst, with Baskauskas taking home the M.V.P.