Green, Toomey Help No. 3 Amherst Stave Off No. 19 Bowdoin, 70-67
Contact: Ben Badua
BRUNSWICK, Maine - Connor Green ’16 led all scorers with 26 points as the third-ranked Amherst men’s basketball team escaped with a hard-fought 70-67 victory over No. 19 Bowdoin at Morrell Gymnasium.
Improving to 17-2 against the Polar Bears since 1999-2000, the Jeffs upped their season mark to 16-3 (6-1 NESCAC), while Bowdoin fell to 17-2 (5-2 NESCAC) on the year.
Down by as much as eight in the second half, Amherst used an 11-2 run to retake the lead. Later tied at 51-51, the Jeffs built an eight-point cushion which the home team whittled down to 68-67 in the waning moments of regulation before Aaron Toomey ’14 hit a pair of free throws to cap off the scoring.
Connecting on nine of his 19 shot attempts, Green knocked down four three-pointers in the second half. As a team, Amherst racked up 15 triples, with eight of the team’s 12 field goals over the final 20 minutes coming from behind the arc. Scoring 13 of his 16 points after the break, Aaron Toomey ’14 helped spur the Jeff rally, while also dishing out 10 assists. Tom Killian ’14 and David Kalema ’14 added 13 and 12 points, respectively, while combining for four rebounds.
Getting Amherst off to a fast start, Green scored the game’s first five points before a Kalema triple and a Ben Pollack ’16 free throw put the Jeffs up 9-0 less than three minutes after the opening tip. John Swords ’15 put Bowdoin on the board with a layup at the 16:56 mark of the first before Grant White ’14 dialed one up from long distance to trim the deficit to four.
Coming right back, Amherst answered with a 15-5 run over the next 12:03, going up 24-10 on a Killian dunk inside of the 12-minute mark. Grant responded with a jumper on the other end, but a Kalema trey on the Jeffs’ next possession staked the visitors to their largest lead of the half.
Beginning with an Andrew Madlinger ’14 three-pointer midway through the period, Bowdoin rattled off 11 unanswered points, pulling within four at 27-23 after a Keegan Pieri ’15 bucket. Pollack knocked down a jumper to snap a nearly four-minute Amherst scoring drought, but the Polar Bears closed out the final 6:18 of the half on a 14-6 run. Matt Mathias ’14 netted seven points during the stretch, including a three at the 1:24 mark that gave Bowdoin its first lead of the game.
Carrying the momentum into the second, Pieri opened the second half scoring with a free throw before Madlinger drained a three to make it 41-35. Madlinger then hit a fall-away jumper from the left baseline to extend the Bowdoin lead to eight before Green converted a three-point play the old-fashioned way to cut into the deficit. After a pair of White free throws, Kalema ducked into the lane for a layup before Toomey pulled up for three to suddenly make it a two-point affair.
Still down two after a Polar Bear turnover, Toomey found Killian for an open triple from the right wing to put the Jeffs back on top. Spinning off a defender, Swords ended an 11-2 Jeff run with a layup, but Green came right back down with a jumper from the left corner. After a Pieri bucket, Green spotted up for a triple from the right wing. With Mathias tying it with a bucket on the other end, Amherst went right back to Green, who hit another trey that put Amherst up 54-51.
Holding onto a two-point edge, Toomey knocked down a three in transition before Green buried his third triple of the frame to put the visitors up 60-52. Battling back, Bowdoin pulled within four on a pair of Mathias and White layups, but Toomey drained a contested three from the left side to up the margin to 63-56.
Trailing 65-59, White knocked down a step-back jumper from the top of the key before Swords connected down low. Coming up with a loose ball, Green drilled his fourth three of the half, but Madlinger answered with a trey of his own the next time down the floor to make it 68-66. Still down two with less than a minute to play, Bowdoin got the ball inside to Swords who got fouled and hit 1-of-2 from the charity stripe.
Forced to send Amherst to the line, the Polar Bears held up Toomey, who knocked down both attempts to up the lead to 70-67 with 21.9 seconds left. With one last chance to tie, Bowdoin got off a couple of Madlinger and White three-pointers as time winded down, but neither shot fell before the buzzer sounded.
Holding a decisive 40-19 rebounding edge, the Polar Bears outscored Amherst 24-16 in the paint and 10-5 in second chance points. Compensating for Bowdoin’s strong inside play the Jeffs turned 18 turnovers into 21 points, while shooting 40.5 percent (15-of-37) from long distance.
Madlinger paced Bowdoin with 19 points, hitting 7-of-10 from the field and 5-of-6 from three, while Mathias had 13 points on 5-of-6 shooting. Swords added 12 points, six rebounds and five assists, while White finished with 11 points and eight boards.
Amherst returns to action on Tuesday, Feb. 4 at Lasell.