Strong Second Half Powers Jeffs Past Wesleyan
Contact: Ben Badua
AMHERST, Mass. – Opening the second half on a 14-2 run, the 16th-ranked Amherst men’s basketball team rebounded from a slow start en route to a 68-60 victory over Wesleyan.
Connor Green ’16 paved the way with 14 points and four rebounds, while Peter Kaasila ’13 had 11 of his 13 points in the second half, hitting on six of his eight field-goal attempts. Willy Workman ’13 added 13 points, five boards and three steals, while Ben Pollack ’16 pulled down a career-high eight rebounds. David Kalema ’14 and Aaron Toomey ’14 chipped in with nine points apiece.
Shasha Brown ’13 led Wesleyan with 22 points, while Mike Callaghan ’13 and Derick Beresford ’13 each finished with 13. Glen Thomas ’14 added 11 rebounds.
Trailing 5-1 after a Green triple, Wesleyan netted four-straight, tying the game on a Brown layup. Amherst answered by scoring the game’s next five points, rebuilding a 10-5 lead on a Tom Killian ’14 pull-up three-pointer at 14:10.
Up three with just under 12 minutes to go in the first, Workman hit a trey before Green connected on a jumper to give the Jeffs their largest lead of the half. Battling back, Wesleyan pieced together a 13-4 run over the next 5:15, taking their first lead since the game’s opening minute on a Brown runner in the paint.
With the game tied at 25, the Cardinals surged back in front, going up five on a Callaghan putback and a Brown three-point play. Hoping to get something going, Workman drew a foul just before the buzzer and converted a pair of free throws to pull Amherst back within three at the intermission.
Picking up where he left off, Workman opened the second half scoring with a layup before draining a straight-away three to put the home team back up two. Toomey kept things rolling with a three from the top of the key, stretching the margin to 37-32.
Knifing into the lane, Brown gave Wesleyan its first points of the half 4:29 in, but on the Jeffs’ ensuing possession, Workman kicked it out to Killian on the left wing, who buried his second trey of the night to put Amherst back up six. After forcing a 24-second violation, Toomey found Green in the corner for another triple that made it 43-34 before Chris Tugman ’15 knocked down a pair from the charity stripe to momentarily stem the tide.
Holding onto a seven-point lead with under nine to go, David Kalema ’14 found Kaasila down low for two before driving the lane for a layup of his own to put Amherst up 51-40. Still up 11 with just over five to play, Kaasila hit a turnaround in the paint, forcing a Wesleyan timeout. The Cardinals pulled back within six on a Beresford three from the right wing with 2:10 on the clock, but that was as close as the visitors would get, with the Jeffs going 6-for-8 from the free throw line down the stretch to seal the win.
The Lord Jeffs return to action on Friday, Jan. 18 against Bowdoin.