Workman Powers Men's Basketball Past Plymouth, 90-63

Contact: Ben Badua

Willy Workman '13 shot 6-for-7 from the floor, finishing with a game-high 18 points.

CHICOPEE, Mass. — Four Lord Jeffs scored in double-figures, led by junior Willy Workman’s game-high 18 points, as the fourth-ranked Amherst men’s basketball team opened its 2011-12 season with a decisive 90-63 victory over Plymouth State University in the Ken Wright ’52 Memorial Invitational Tournament.

Improving to 21-0 all-time in tournament play, Amherst has now won its last 15 season openers. The Lord Jeffs return to action on Saturday, Nov. 19 when they take on Washington & Lee University in the tournament's championship game slated for 3 p.m. at LeFrak Gymnasium.

Down 3-2 early after a Jesse Sabolis ’12 three, Amherst rattled off a 15-2 run, going up 12 on a Taylor Barrise ’12 (Allendale, N.J.) triple with just over 13 minutes left in the first half. Senior David Waller (Tampa, Fla.) got things started with a three-point play before Aaron Toomey ’14 (Greensboro, N.C.) netted five of the game’s next seven points to extend the margin to seven. A Workman layup at 13:30 made it14-5 before Barrise capped off the rally with a three.

Plymouth State responded with eight unanswered points, trimming the deficit to 17-13 on back-to-back Brian Chergey ’12 and Stephan Roberts ’13 treys, but Toomey buried a triple of his own on the Lord Jeffs’ ensuing possession to put Amherst back up seven.

Up six following a Chergey three with six minutes remaining in the first, the Jeffs closed the half out strong, going on a 22-8 run to take a 51-30 lead into the intermission. Barrise dialed up three treys during Amherst’s crucial stretch, while Waller, Toomey and Workman combined for 12 points over the final 4:27 to help build the Jeff cushion.

Hoping to carry Amherst’s momentum into the second, Peter Kaasila ’13 (Plaistow, N.H.) netted five of the second half’s first eight points to extend the Jeff lead to 23 with 18:41 to play. Still up 23 just under the 17-minute mark, Workman connected from distance, kicking off a quick 9-3 Amherst spurt that made it 68-39 after an Allen Williamson ’13 (Saugus, Mass.) free-throw at 15:02.

Down 28 with under nine to play, Plymouth mounted a 10-1 rally over the next 2:53, paring the Amherst lead to 77-58. The Lord Jeffs answered by going on a 13-4 streak of their own, pushing the margin back up to 28 with just 1:58 left, sealing the their first win of season.

Senior Tim Prowitt (Arlington, Va.) got Amherst back on track with a three at the 5:06 mark before Connor Johnson ’12 (San Diego, Calif.) and Connor Gach ’14 (Saranac Lake, N.Y.) each connected from long range after a Shomari Morgan ’15 layup. Plymouth’s Jonathan Lowering ’13 hit a pair of free-throws at 3:10 before Joseph Mussachia ’15 (Manchester, Mass.) and Landrus Lewis ’13 (Pennsauken, N.J.) netted the Jeffs’ final four points in a 90-63 win.

Toomey and Barrise each finished with 12 points, combining for six three-pointers. Waller tallied 11 points, five rebounds and four assists, while Kaasila had seven points and five boards. 

Petey Skevas '14 led Plymouth with 15 points on 4-for-8 shooting, while Chergey added 10 points and a pair of rebounds. Morgan and Sabolis chipped in with nine points apiece, combining for six boards.

Amherst, which held a 36-31 rebounding edge while forcing 23 turnovers, held the Panthers to just a 37.0 percent shooting percentage (20-for-54). The Lord Jeffs went 29-for-57 (50.9 percent) from the field and 11-for-24 (45.8 percent) from three-point range.