Athletics

Jeffs Let Lead Slip Away Against Middlebury in NESCAC Semifinals

Team
Amherst will hope for an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament.

Courtesy of Williams College

WILLIAMSTOWN, MA – The third-seeded Amherst College men's basketball team led by 18 points late in the first half of Saturday’s NESCAC Championship semifinal game against second-seeded Middlebury College, but the Lord Jeffs struggled down the stretch and ultimately suffered a 67-61 loss.

Amherst (22-3, 7-2 NESCAC) led for 38:59 of the contest and was up by 10 with 8:15 to play, but the Panthers (24-1, 8-1) simply would not go away. With 3:08 remaining Middlebury’s Andrew Locke scored on a put-back of a Nolan Thompson miss to cut the Amherst lead to two at 61-59. The Panthers tied the score with 1:49 remaining when Ryan Sharry collected his own shot and put it in off the glass.

Middlebury first-year guard Joey Kizel put his team in the lead for good when he scored on a left-handed lay-in with 1:01 to play. After a pair of Sharry free throws, Amherst was unable to score on three shots and Kizel knocked down another two freebies to bring the final score to 67-61.

Sharry led the Panthers with a double-double on 15 points and 13 rebounds, while Kizel added 13 points and Locke had a NESCAC-record seven blocks.  Amherst was led in scoring by senior Connor Meehan (Meriden, CT), who tallied 18 points.

Also in double figures for the Lord Jeffs were Taylor Barrise ’12 (Allendale, NJ) and Peter Kaasila ’13 (Plaistow, NH), who had 13 and 12, respectively. Middlebury out-rebounded Amherst by a margin of 11 in the game, 49-38. Willy Workman ’13 (Northampton, MA) was the Jeffs’ top man on the glass with seven.

The final four points of the first half for Amherst came on a jumper and two free throws from Meehan, giving Amherst a 38-24 lead at the break. Barrise had a game-high 13 points in the first half, shooting 4-of-6 from the floor and 3-of-4 from beyond the arc. The Lord Jeffs collected 19 rebounds to the Panthers’ 18 in the first 20 minutes. Amherst shot 48 percent overall in the first half but would hit only one of its 15 three-point attempts in the second.

Middlebury will take on top-seeded Williams College Sunday at noon for the NESCAC title, while the Lord Jeffs will hope to receive an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament.

BOX SCORE

2011 NESCAC Championship
Quarterfinal Round – Saturday, Feb. 19
No. 1 Williams def. No. 8 Bowdoin, 82-62
No. 2 Middlebury def. No. 7 Conn. College, 61-41
No. 3 Amherst def. No. 6 Bates, 77-61
No. 4 Trinity def. No. 5 Tufts, 70-47

Semifinal Round – Saturday, Feb. 26 (@ Williams)
No. 1 Williams def. No. 4 Trinity, 79-69
No. 2 Middlebury def. No. 3 Amherst, 67-61

Championship Game – Sunday, Feb. 27 (@ Williams)
No. 1 Williams vs. No. 2 Middlebury – 12 p.m.