Toomey Shines in 81-71 Win Over Springfield

Contact: Ben Badua

Aaron Toomey '14 finished with a team-high 21 points to lead the Jeffs past Springfield.

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. - Aaron Toomey ’14 (Greensboro, N.C.) scored Amherst’s final 10 points, finishing with a team-high 21 to lead the third-ranked men’s basketball team to an 81-71 triumph over host Springfield at the Pioneer Valley Classic.

With the win, Amherst improved to 5-0 on the season while Springfield fell to 5-1 on the year. The Lord Jeffs, now 20-1 in Classic play since 2001, have won their last seven meetings against the Pride.

Hoping to get the home team off to a fast start, Jordan Rote ’12 drained a three on Springfield’s first possession but Amherst senior forward Jeff Holmes (Saunderstown, R.I.) quickly answered with a triple of his own before Toomey drove the lane for two, putting the Jeffs up 5-3.

Rote and Alex Berthiaume ’13 responded with consecutive baskets to put the Pride back on top at the 18:05 mark but a David Waller ’12 (Tampa, Fla.) trey from the right wing gave the Jeffs an 8-7 lead.

Down 13-10 with under 14 to go in the first, Amherst mounted a 7-2 run on a Taylor Barrise ’12 (Allendale, N.J.) three, Willy Workman ’13 (Northampton, Mass.) layup and Peter Kaasila ’13  (Plaistow, N.H.) jumper. Later ahead 21-19, Amherst sophomore guard David Kalema (Burke, Va.) connected from long distance before finding a trailing Barrise for the Jeffs’ fifth triple of the night, extending the visitor’s margin to eight.

Springfield rallied with a 6-2 stretch over the next several minutes of action, pulling within four at 29-25 on a Robbie Burke ’14 fadeaway jumper from the right elbow but Workman ducked into the paint for two on Amherst’s ensuing possession to make it 31-25.

With the Pride battling back to within one on a Berthiaume layup at 2:47 Barrise once again gave the Jeffs some breathing room, drilling a three from the left side to help stake Amherst to a four-point cushion heading into the intermission.

Ahead 37-33, Toomey opened up second half scoring with a pull-up three before Holmes drove the baseline for a layup that put Amherst up nine. Berthiaume drained a triple from the left corner at 18:06 to make it a six-point game but a Workman trey coupled with a Waller bucket quickly gave the Jeffs their first double-digit lead.

Holding onto a seven-point edge after a Matt Pascuzzo ’13 free-throw, Waller knocked down a layup before Barrise hit his fourth triple to make it 53-41 with 13:13 on the clock. Looking to climb back into the game, Springfield mounted a 11-2 run in just 1:53, slicing the deficit to three.

Trying to get back on track, Toomey ended Amherst’s dryspell with another trey before Workman connected on a jumper in the paint to push the Jeff advantage back up to 60-52. After a pair of Berthiaume free-throws brought the Pride within seven, Workman drove to the basket before kicking it back out to Toomey who dialed it in from behind the arc, once again giving the Jeffs a double-digit edge.

Clinging onto a five-point lead with under four minutes to go following a Berthiaume free-throw, Toomey hit a runner in the lane to extend the Jeff margin to seven. Pascuzzo pulled Springfield within four with at trey at 0:51 but Toomey closed out the game, going 6-for-6 from the charity stripe to seal Amherst’s 81-71 win.

Workman finished with 15 points, five assists and four rebounds while Barrise, who shot 4-for-6 from three-point range, added 14 points and nine boards. Waller tallied 11 points and four rebounds, rounding out the list of Jeffs in double-figures.

Berthiaume shot 11-for-20 from the floor en route to a game-high 32 points while Rote chipped in with eight points and three steals. Burke tallied nine points on 4-for-7 shooting while Pascuzzo, Ryan Coburn ’12 and Evan Christner ’12 each finished with six.

Amherst, which held a 37-31 rebounding edge, matched a season-high with 11 threes, going 11-for-21 from beyond the arc while finishing 26-for-61 (42.6 percent) from the field.

The Lord Jeffs wrap up play at the 2011 Pioneer Valley Classic against Westfield State on Saturday, Dec. 3.