No. 8 Jeffs Hold Off No. 5 Williams, 84-73
Contact: Ben Badua
AMHERST, Mass. - Aaron Toomey ’14 finished with 16 points and 10 assists to help lead the eighth-ranked Amherst men’s basketball team to a hard-fought 84-73 victory over No. 5 Williams.
Extending their win streak over their archrivals to six, the Jeffs improved to 10-2 overall on the season and 2-0 in conference play, while dropping the Ephs to 11-2 (1-1 NESCAC).
Just two assists shy of tying a career-high, Toomey also added six rebounds in 37 minutes. Putting together a solid all-around effort, Tom Killian ’14 poured in 23 points on 9-for-13 shooting, while grabbing six boards and matching a personal-best with five steals. Connor Green ’16 connected on nine of his 18 shot attempts for 23 points and eight rebounds, while David Kalema ’14 pulled down a career-high seven boards.
Coming out strong, Williams’ Taylor Epley ’14 drained a three pointer from the right wing before Michael Mayer ’14 drove the lane for two to give the Ephs an early 5-0 cushion. Amherst responded with seven unanswered, taking its first lead of the game on a Killian layup at 17:24.
With the game knotted at 12-12, the Jeffs pieced together a 10-2 run over a span of 1:51, going ahead 24-16 on a Green bucket. Hayden Rooke-Ley ’15 came back with a layup on the Ephs’ next possession, jump-starting an 11-2 spurt that was capped off by a pair of Daniel Wohl ’15 free throws.
Killian converted a three-point play on the other end to quickly put Amherst back on top before draining a three the next time down the floor to make it 30-25. Green then connected down low before another Killian trey gave the home team their first double-digit lead. Sparking a rally, Duncan Robinson ’17 hit a triple of his own as Williams pared the deficit to four with 3:05 remaining in the first half.
Hoping to give the Purple & White some momentum heading into the locker room, Toomey netted five of the frame’s final nine points. Running the clock down, the senior point guard dribbled to his right before hitting an off-balance runner along the baseline as the buzzer sounded to stake Amherst to a 44-35 margin at the intermission.
Picking up where they left off, the Jeffs strung together a 13-5 run over the first five minutes of the second period. Killian had seven points during the stretch to help give Amherst a 57-40 cushion. Down 16 after another Killian basket inside of the nine-minute mark, Williams trimmed the difference to nine over the next five-plus minutes, pulling within 76-67 on a Mayer layup with 3:25 on the clock.
Trailing by 10 with just over a minute left, Robinson drilled a three-pointer that cut it to 78-71, but that was as close as the visitors would get, with Amherst going 6-for-8 from the charity stripe down the stretch to seal the win. Four Ephs scored in double digits, led by Mayer, who had 18 points and 11 rebounds. Epley netted 15 points on 6-for-14 shooting, while Robinson and Wohl chipped in with 12 apiece.
Holding a 40-31 rebounding edge, the Jeffs finished with a slim 12-11 advantage in second chance points and 42-36 margin in points in the paint. Squaring off with one of the conference’s most efficient offenses, Amherst held Williams nearly 15 points below its season average, while limiting the Ephs to just a 6-for-22 (27.3 percent) showing from behind the arc.
The Jeffs will now play eight of their next nine games away from the friendly confines of LeFrak Gymnasium, beginning with a match-up at Little Three rival Wesleyan on Tuesday, Jan. 14.