Jeffs Surge Past Wesleyan, 81-56
Contact: Ben Badua
AMHERST, Mass. - Leading from end-to-end, the ninth-ranked Amherst men’s basketball team extended its win streak to four with a decisive 81-56 victory over NESCAC rival Wesleyan University at LeFrak Gymnasium.
Winners of 13 of their last 14 outings, the Jeffs (20-3, 8-1 NESCAC) have now picked up victories in each of the past four meetings against their Little Three rivals, dropping the Cardinals to 10-12 on the season and 3-5 in NESCAC play.
Aaron Toomey ’14 helped pave the way with a game-high 24 points, hitting seven of his 12 shot attempts, including a 4-of-9 showing from three and a perfect 6-of-6 clip at the charity stripe. Tom Killian ’14 finished with 14 points, five rebounds and four steals, while David Kalema ’14 tallied 10 of his 12 points in the second half.
Scoring early and often, the Jeffs quickly built a 27-14 lead midway through the first half. Amherst hit five three-pointers during the stretch, with Toomey accounting for 10 of the team’s points. Thanks to a Rashid Epps ’16 layup and a pair of Jack Mackey ’16 free throws, Wesleyan trimmed the deficit to nine, but a Toomey bucket coupled with a Connor Gach triple stretched the margin back up to 32-18.
Up 12 at the intermission, the Jeffs opened the second half on a 10-2 run. Ben Pollack ’16 got things started with a fast-break dunk, before Kalema knifed into the paint for two. Epps answered with a layup on the other end, but back-to-back Connor Green ’16 and Toomey treys gave the home team a 49-29 cushion.
Keeping pace, Wesleyan chipped away over the next two and a half minutes, trimming the deficit to 13 on a Joe Edmonds ’16 three-point play with 15:01 to play. Still down 13 with just over 10 minutes remaining, Mackey laid it in for two to make it 59-48. After David George ’17 hit 1-of-2 from the line, Harry Rafferty ’17 drew a foul and sunk both of his free throw attempts to suddenly make it a 10-point game at 8:57.
Coming right back, Green banked in a turnaround jumper before Kalema drained a three on the next possession to push the lead back up to 15. After trading baskets, Toomey connected on another triple to make it 70-52. George and Toomey then hit four-straight from the line before consecutive Toomey and Kalema layups capped off a decisive 18-2 spurt over a span of five minutes.
Epps hit a free throw at 3:12 to end a four-plus minute Wesleyan scoring drought, but the Cardinals would not manage to make another field goal after junior Bryan Galvin’s jumper with 7:18 on the clock. Edmonds paced the visitors with 14 points on 6-of-11 shooting, while Epps and Rafferty had 12 points apiece.
Holding a 37-28 rebounding edge, Amherst finished with a 14-5 advantage in second chance points. Helping to force 17 turnovers, the Jeffs scored 29 points off of Wesleyan miscues.
Amherst returns to action on Sunday, Feb. 16 against Middlebury.