Jeffs Drop Thriller to Nova Southeastern, 105-101
Contact: Ben Badua
FT. LAUDERDALE, Fla. - Despite a career-high 42 points from Connor Green ’16, the sixth-ranked Amherst men’s basketball team dropped an overtime thriller to Division II Nova Southeastern University, 105-101.
Down four in the waning moments of regulation, the Jeffs (7-2) rattled off a 6-0 run to take a two-point edge with less than a minute to go. Tying the game on a pair of Stian Berg ’15 free throws with 18 seconds on the clock, the Sharks scored seven of the first nine points during the extra session to improve 3-8 on the season.
Playing their first game in nearly three weeks, Amherst shot 53.1 percent (34-for-64) from the floor and 41.7 percent (15-for-36) from three-point range. Connecting on 14 of his 25 shot attempts, Green drained a career-high eight triples to lead all scorers. The Jeffs’ top point-getter, the sophomore swingman has finished in double digits in every game this season, netting at least 20 points five times, while setting his previous career-high of 31 against Newbury on Nov. 22.
Going 8-for-16 from the field, Aaron Toomey ’14 finished with 28 points, eight assists and five rebounds, while tying a personal-best with six steals. David Kalema ’14 chipped in with 11 points and a career-high seven assists, while David George ’17 had a game-high 11 rebounds and nine points. Tom Killian ’14 was the only other Jeff to score, adding 11.
Down 8-4 after a George layup at 17:28, Nova Southeastern rattled off a 17-1 run over the next three-plus minutes to build a 12-point lead on a pair of Justin Jeangerard ’15 free throws. Green snapped Amherst’s field goal drought with a three-pointer on the Purple & White’s next possession, before an old-fashioned Toomey three-point play made it 21-15. Keeping the Jeffs rolling, the senior point guard connected on a triple the next time down the floor to pull the visitors back within three.
Beginning with a Brian Cahill ’15 trey at 11:17, the Sharks responded with an 8-2 spurt, stretching the margin back up to nine on a Brandon Patchan ’17 layup. Green came right back with another three inside of the 10-minute mark, sparking a 9-0 Amherst run capped off by a Kalema layup that tied it at 29-29.
Down 31-29, Green drilled another trey to help Amherst regain the edge, but a 13-3 NSU stretch over the next three and a half minutes once again put the home team on top. Closing out the half strong, the Purple & White scored eight of the frame’s final 12 points to pull within 48-43 at the intermission.
With the Sharks going up by seven early in the second period, Amherst pieced together a 15-3 run over a span of 3:24. Killian got the stretch started with a pair of free throws before Berg hit 3-of-4 from the line to make it 55-50. George then knifed into the paint before a Green steal led to a Toomey fastbreak. Green and Killian posted consecutive buckets to put the Jeffs back up before Green ducked into the paint for two more to push the lead to 60-55 at 14:47.
Battling back, NSU pulled even on a Chris Page ’16 layup that knotted it at 63-63. Quickly turning into a see-saw affair, the lead changed hands several times over the next 10 minutes before the Sharks went up 88-82 on a Page triple at 4:28. Kick-starting a Jeff run, Toomey created a turnover before finding Kalema for an uncontested bucket.
A Killian basket pulled Amherst within two before a Maurice Fuller ’15 field goal upped the NSU margin to 90-86. Toomey answered with a three-pointer on Amherst’s next possession before later draining another trey to put the Jeffs back up two with 49 seconds left. Making something happen with under 20 seconds to play, Berg created a steal before drawing a Kalema foul and knocking down both attempts from the line to suddenly pull the home team even.
Kalema opened the overtime scoring with a layup, but seven unanswered NSU points bookended by a Cahill three with 3:03 on the board made it 99-94. Trailing by six with under a minute to go, Toomey once again found the range from long distance, but Jeangerard responded with a trifecta on the other end to help ice the Shark win.
Cahill hit 9-of-12 field goals including 7-of-9 three-pointers to finish with a team-high 31 points. Jeangerard and Berg each added 18 points, while Page had 16 points and six assists.
Amherst finished with a 35-28 rebounding edge and 18-9 advantage in second chance points. Scoring 30 points off a season-high 25 Jeff turnovers, Nova Southeastern also held 15-0 disparity in bench points.
The Purple & White return to action on Tuesday, Jan. 7 against Eastern Connecticut State University.