Balanced Effort Helps Jeffs Hold Off Tufts, 74-65
Contact: Ben Badua
Aaron Toomey '14 had a game-high 18
points to lead the Jeffs in a win over Tufts.
MEDFORD, Mass. - Four players scored in double figures as the sixth-ranked Amherst men's basketball team earned a hard-fought 74-65 win over Tufts to clinch a home quarterfinal game in the upcoming NESCAC Championship.
With the win, the Lord Jeffs improved to 20-2 overall and 8-0 in NESCAC play, while the Jumbos fell to 16-6 (6-3 NESCAC) on the year.
Trailing 2-0 after a C.J. Moss ’15 layup, Amherst reeled off a 12-5 run, taking a seven-point lead on a David Waller ’12 (Tampa, Fla.) three. Tufts first-year Ben Ferris helped the home team cap off a string of five answered, deadlocking the game at 12-12 before Amherst’s Willy Workman ’13 (Northampton, Mass.) put the visitors back on top with a layup at 13:35.
Tufts responded with a 6-2 spurt of its own, regaining the lead on a Ferris basket with just over 11 minutes to go in the half.
Down 24-20 after a Tom Folliard ’14 bucket, Jeff Holmes ’12 (Saunderstwon, R.I.) kick-started a 9-2 Lord Jeff run as Amherst once again pulled ahead on another Waller trey at 4:36.
Junior forward Scott Anderson ended a nearly three-minute Jumbos field-goal drought before Moss converted a three-point play the old-fashioned way to stake Tufts to a slim two-point edge.
Four consecutive Allen Williamson ’13 (Saugus, Mass.) points inside of two minutes briefly gave Amherst a 35-33 edge, but sophomore guard Oliver Cohen drained a triple with 37 seconds left, giving the Jumbos a one-point advantage heading into the intermission.
Amherst opened the second half on an 8-2 run, building a five-point cushion on a Workman three-point play 2:04 into the frame. Still up five after an Aaron Toomey ’14 (Greensboro, N.C.) triple with 11:33 remaining, Williamson stretched the lead to 56-49 with a dunk.
Behind 62-57 after a pair of Workman free throws with 4:39 left, sophomore guard Kwame Firempong knocked down a jumper to pull Tufts back within three. Amherst quickly went back up by five when Toomey converted a pair from the line before senior Taylor Barrise (Allendale, N.J.) drained a big three-pointer to stretch the Jeffs' lead to eight.
Ferris answered with a trey of his own on Tufts’ ensuing possession, but a Peter Kaasila ’13 (Plaistow, N.H.) layup with 1:59 on the clock helped keep the Jumbos at bay before the Jeffs went 5-for-5 from the line down the stretch to seal the win.
Toomey led all scorers with 18 points, while Waller added 15 points and seven rebounds. Workman and Williamson each chipped in with 10 points while combining for six rebounds, two assists, two blocks and three steals.
Ferris paced Tufts with 16 points on 7-for-11 shooting, while Moss added 12. Anderson added 10 points and seven boards in the loss, while senior Alex Orchowski had 11 points and eight rebounds.
Amherst, which held a slight 39-36 edge on the boards while forcing 15 Tufts turnovers, returns to action on Friday, Feb. 10 to host Williams College.