Kaasila Lifts Jeffs to 79-77 Win Over Hamilton

Contact: Ben Badua

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CLINTON, N.Y. - Peter Kaasila ’13 scored the game winner in the waning moments of regulation to lift the 21st-ranked Amherst men’s basketball team to a thrilling 79-77 comeback win over Hamilton.

Down 77-73 with 1:16 remaining, the Jeffs closed out the game on a 6-0 run, with Kaasila netting four of his game-high 21 points down the stretch to help the visitors remain unbeaten in league play (12-2, 3-0 NESCAC).

Connecting on four of his eight field goal attempts, Aaron Toomey ’14 added 13 points, seven rebounds and six assists, while Willy Workman ’13 finished with 13 points, five boards and four assists on 4-for-6 shooting. Tom Killian ’14 chipped in with a career-high seven assists, while Connor Green ’16 knocked down 5-of-9 three-pointers for 15 points.

Matt Hart ’16 led Hamilton with 19 points, while Peter Kazickas ’15 and Eric Benvenuti ’13 had 14 and 10 points, respectively.

Scoring the game’s first five points, Kaasila gave Amherst an early edge before Killian buried a jumper to cap off a 7-3 opening run. Responding with a 9-2 rally, the Continentals took their first lead of the contest with consecutive Kazickas and Hart three-pointers.

Tied at 15 after a Killian triple, Greg Newton ’14 put Hamilton back on top with five quick points before Hart extended the margin to 22-15 with a layup at 10:35. Still down seven with under 10 minutes to go in the half, Workman drained a trifecta before five-consecutive Ben Pollack ’16 points pulled the Jeffs ahead. Green then kept the visitors rolling with back-to-back treys to push the margin to seven.

Down 38-31, Hart kick-started a Hamilton run, converting a three-point play the old-fashioned way. With the deficit at three in the waning moments of the frame, Hart struck again, knocking down a try from long distance to tie it at 40-40.

After exchanging baskets to start the second, Benvenuti drained a three-pointer before Kazickas hit a jumper to give the Continentals a 47-42 lead. Coming back with an 11-4 run, Kaasila tied the game with a pair of free throws before giving Amherst a 53-51 advantage with a layup at 14:12.

Later regaining the lead on a Benvenuti layup, Hamilton built a four-point cushion on a Ken Click ’13 three that made it 73-69. Clinging onto a one-point lead inside the two minute mark, Kazicakas converted a three-point play to once again give the home team a four-point edge.

Keeping the Jeffs’ within striking distance, Kaasila trimmed the deficit to 77-75 with a layup at 1:03 before a pair of Willy Workman ’13 free throws pulled Amherst even. After a Killian steal on Hamilton’s ensuing possession, Toomey found Kaasila down low, who put the Purple & White up for good with a layup with two seconds remaining.

Amherst returns to action on Tuesday, Jan. 15 against Little Three rival Wesleyan.

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