Athletics

Jeffs Cruise to 97-74 Semifinal Win Over Bates

Contact: Ben Badua

Toomey
Aaron Toomey '14 had a career-high 26 points in a 97-74 semifinal win over Bates.

AMHERST, Mass. - The top-seeded Amherst men’s basketball team opened the game on a 41-17 run and never looked back, securing a 97-74 win over fifth-seeded Bates College in a NESCAC Championship semifinal game at LeFrak Gymnasium.

Improving to 5-0 all-time against Bates in NESCAC tournament play, Amherst (24-2, 10-0 NESCAC) advances to its first championship game since 2009, with hopes of capturing a fifth league title. The Jeffs will take on second-seeded Middlebury, which earned a 74-52 win over Wesleyan in the other semifinal game.

Falling in the conference semifinals for the second time in three years, Bates dropped to 13-13 (5-5 NESCAC) on the season.

Coming out firing, Amherst’s Taylor Barrise ’12 (Allendale, N.J.) connected on his first two attempts from beyond the arc before an Aaron Toomey ’14 (Greensboro, N.C.) trey gave the home team an early 9-4 edge.  

Peter Kaasila ’13 (Plaistow, N.H.) kept things rolling with a hook shot in the lane before Toomey found David Waller ’12 (Tampa, Fla.) on a run out, pushing the Lord Jeff lead to nine with 16:10 on the clock. Waller struck again with a triple from the left corner on the Jeffs’ next possession before a John Squires ’12 putback ended a string of 13 unanswered Amherst points.

After Jeff Holmes ’12 (Saunderstown, R.I.) extended the Jeff lead to 14 on a layup at 10:24, Toomey picked up a steal before going end-to-end, putting Amherst ahead 28-12. Moments later, Holmes again converted down low before a Willy Workman ’13 (Northampton, Mass.) three from the top of the key suddenly stretched the Amherst lead to 21.

Graham Safford ’15 momentarily stemmed the Jeff tide with a bucket at the 8:18 mark, but the home team continued to pour it on, scoring eight of the game’s next 11 points, capped off by an Allen Williamson ’13 (Saugus, Mass.) dunk, to build a commanding 41-17 lead.

Hoping to keep pace, Bates closed the half out strong, outscoring Amherst 19-8 over the final 5:53 of the frame, to pull within 13 at the intermission. Sophomore guard Luke Matarazzo ’14, helped spark the Bobcat rally, netting 12 points during the key run to help bring the visitors back within striking distance.

Looking to carry their momentum into the second period, Bates junior Ed Bogdanovich opened up the scoring with a jumper from the right elbow to make it 49-38. Still up 11 after a Matarazzo jumper with 17:53 to go, Toomey drained a three, kick-starting an 11-2 Amherst run over a 1:59 span that gave the Jeffs a 64-44 cushion with just over 15 minutes remaining in regulation.

With the Bobcats back within 17 after another Matarazzo jumper, Barrise buried a straight-away three before a Workman reverse layup coupled with a Williamson bucket staked the home team to a decisive 84-60 edge with 7:53 to play. Coming out of a Bates timeout, Holmes pushed the lead to 26 with a left-handed turnaround before a Squires tip-in ended a 9-0 Amherst run that all but sealed the Lord Jeff victory.

Toomey led all scorers, pouring in a career-high 26 points on 7-for-9 shooting, including a 5-for-7 clip from three-point range. Barrise added 16 points, going 5-for-6 from the floor and 4-for-5 from long distance, while Workman chipped in with 11 points, five rebounds and three assists. Holmes rounded out the list of Jeffs in double-figures with 14 points on 6-for-7 shooting.

Squires paced Bates with 22 points and six rebounds, while Matarazzo had 18 points on 8-for-12 shooting. Bogdanovich added 12 points and seven rebounds.

Amherst, which held a 34-22 rebounding edge, shot a blistering 62.1 percent (36-for-58) from the floor, including a 50.0 percent (11-for-22) clip from behind the arc.

BOX SCORE

2012 NESCAC Men's Basketball Championship
Quarterfinal Round - Saturday, Feb. 18
No. 1 Amherst def. No. 8 Hamilton, 86-66
No. 2 Middlebury def. No. 7 Williams, 73-61
No. 3 Wesleyan def. No. 6 Bowdoin, 78-59
No. 5 Bates def. No. 4 Tufts, 57-54

Semifinal Round - Saturday, Feb. 25

No. 1 Amherst def. No. 5 Bates, 97-74
No. 2 Middlebury def. No. 3 Wesleyan, 74-52

Championship Game - Sunday, Feb. 26
No. 1 Amherst (24-2) vs. No. 2 Middlebury (24-2) --- 2:30 p.m.