Jeffs Upset Middlebury in OT, Grab Top Seed
Pete Kaasila '13 recorded a double-double
and hit two pivotal free throws in overtime.
Contact: Justin Long
AMHERST, Mass. - Amherst's fans could get used to this.
For the second time in less than 24 hours, the sixth-ranked Amherst College men’s basketball team gave its fans a reason to storm the court thanks to a dramatic two-point victory. This time the home crowd got to celebrate after upsetting second-ranked Middlebury College in overtime by a score of 77-75, giving the Lord Jeffs the top seed in the upcoming NESCAC Championship.
Middlebury (22-2, 9-1 NESCAC) didn’t lead until 3:21 remained in regulation, and Amherst (22-2, 10-0 NESCAC) didn’t regain the lead until Pete Kaasila ’13 grabbed an offensive rebound and put home a layup with 2.8 seconds remaining in overtime. The Panthers’ ensuing in-bounds pass was stolen by Aaron Toomey ’14 at half court, securing the win for the Lord Jeffs.
Amherst will host eighth-seeded Hamilton College next Saturday in the quarterfinals of the conference tournament, while Middlebury earned the No. 2 seed and will host seventh-seeded Williams.
The Jeffs increased their home win streak to 26 and their overall unbeaten streak to nine, also snapping their four-game losing skid to the Panthers.
Ryan Sharry posted his sixth consecutive double-double with 10 points and 12 rebounds, but it was Joey Kizel and Nolan Thompson who led the Panthers with 18 points apiece. Peter Lynch added 12 points for the visitors.
Toomey finished with a team-high 16 points thanks to an 8-for-8 showing at the line, as he accounted for the final points of regulation and another four in overtime. Kaasila had 12 points and 11 rebounds, also hitting two clutch free throws in the extra period.
The Panthers began the week ranked third in Division III in field goal percentage (.517), but they started the game 5-of-20 from the field. The Jeffs, on the other hand, were firing on all cylinders, doing everything from throwing alley-oops to taking charges en route to a 35-20 lead with 2:30 to play.
Middlebury closed the first half on a dominant 11-0 run that began with a Thompson three-pointer and ended with a layup by Kizel, as the Jeffs held a 35-31 lead at the break.
David Kalema '14 scored 11 points off the bench.
The visitors cut their deficit to one point on four occasions but would not tie the game until Thompson buried another three, bringing the score to 62-62 with 3:39 remaining in regulation. Middlebury took its first lead of the game on the next possession when Jake Wolfin connected for three of his own from the left corner.
Kaasila came up with a big offensive rebound and kicked the ball out to Taylor Barrise ’12, who tied the game at 67-67 with a straightaway three. A goaltending call briefly handed the lead back to the Panthers, but a pair of Toomey free throws with 10 seconds on the clock marked the final points of the second half. Amherst got the ball back after Wolfin was whistled for traveling, but a half-court heave by Willy Workman ’13 hit the back of the rim.
Middlebury struck first in the back-and-forth overtime session with a Sharry layup, but Amherst countered with a pair of Toomey free throws. The Panthers went back inside and got a lay-in from Kizel, but Kaasila knocked down two shots from the line to tie the game at 73-73.
Two free throws by Lynch marked Middlebury’s final points of the game. Another two points at the line from Toomey tied the game at 75-75 with 1:14 to play, and a missed layup by Wolfin handed the ball back to Amherst. The Jeffs held for the last shot and went to Toomey for a three-pointer, but his attempt was no good. Kaasila was there for the put-back to make it a 77-75 game with only 2.8 seconds to go, and after a Middlebury timeout the ensuing in-bounds pass was taken away by a leaping Toomey at half court.
The teams had nearly identical shooting nights and were separated by only four rebounds, but Amherst committed only four turnovers to the Panthers’ 12. The Jeffs made their last 11 free throws, while Middlebury was a combined 6-for-6 at the line in the second half and in overtime.
Barrise finished with 13 points for the Jeffs, while David Kalema ’14 was a key contributor with 11 points, as Amherst’s bench outscored Middlebury’s by a 36-10 margin.
Prior to the game Amherst honored its five seniors, who have posted an 82-24 record in four years. The Class of 2012 accounted for 25 points against Middlebury, with David Waller ’12 and Tim Prowitt ’12 leading the first-half charge.
WILLIAMSON ALLEY-OOP DUNK
2012 NESCAC Men’s Basketball Championship
Quarterfinal Round - Saturday, Feb. 18
No. 8 Hamilton @ No. 1 Amherst
No. 7 Williams @ No. 2 Middlebury
No. 6 Bowdoin @ No. 3 Wesleyan
No. 5 Bates @ No. 4 Tufts