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Amherst College > Athletics > Men's Basketball > Jeffs to Host West. Conn.
   

Opponent Set for Saturday Night; Jeffs to Host Western Connecticut State in NCAA Tournament Second Round

March 1, 2002

John Donovan '04
Sophomore sharpshooter John Donovan Donovan is Amherst's third-leading scorer at 11.4 points per game and third in the NESCAC in free throw percentage (81.8%)
AMHERST, MA - The Amherst College men's basketball team will host Western Connecticut State University in the second round of the Division III NCAA Championship Tournament Saturday at 7 p.m. The Jeffs drew one of 16 first-round byes in the tournament, while Western Connecticut State advanced to the second round with a 92-89 win over visiting Salem State College on Thursday night.

Ticket prices are $4.00 for general admission and $3.00 for children and students with valid ID. Doors at LeFrak Gymnasium will open at 5:30 p.m. The game will be broadcast locally, and live on the Internet, by Amherst's campus radio station, WAMH (89.3 FM). To access the Webcast, visit http://www.amherst.edu/~wamh/sports shortly before tip-off.

Saturday night's winner will advance to the NCAA Sectionals (Round of 16) and face either Brockport State (26-2), which drew a first-round bye, or Trinity College (19-4), which downed Colby-Sawyer, 75-47, in a first-round matchup on Thursday. Sectional play will take place on Friday and Saturday, March 8-9, at an on-campus site to be determined. For a complete tournament bracket and updated scores, visit NCAAChampionships.com.

Amherst, 21-6 and owners of a six-game winning streak, advanced to their third straight NCAA Tournament by sweeping Bowdoin, Williams and Trinity Colleges en route to their second consecutive NESCAC Postseason Tournament Championship. The Jeffs are led by junior Steve Zieja, who was named the NESCAC and ECAC Player of the Week on Monday. Currently fourth in the NESCAC in scoring (18.1 ppg), fifth in free throw percentage (79.2%) and ninth in rebounding (7.1 rpg), Zieja has already cracked the career 1,000-point and 500-rebound plateaus and is rapidly climbing Amherst's all-time scoring list. His 1,173 career points are 11th all-time at Amherst, with the school record of 1,550 career points well within his reach.

His counterpart on the low post is junior center Pat Fitzsimons, Amherst's second-leading scorer and the conference's fourth-leading rebounder at 13.3 points and 8.6 rebounds per game. Another junior, point guard Ryan Faulkner, runs the show offensively, dishing out a league second-best 5.4 assists on a nightly basis. Joining Faulkner in the backcourt are sophomore sensations Adam Harper and John Donovan. Harper sat out the season's first seven games recovering from a stress fracture in his left foot but returned to tally a team-high 50 steals while averaging 11.2 points. Donovan is Amherst's third-leading scorer at 11.4 points per game and third in the NESCAC in free throw percentage (81.8%).

One of Amherst's greatest assets, however, is the strength of its reserves. First-year forward Andrew Schiel brings the added dimensions of height and outside shooting off the bench, while senior tri-captain Pat Taverna and sophomore guard Frank Perry specialize in shutting down opponents' top offensive players. Another specialist, sophomore sharpshooter John Kloepfer, has 22 three-pointers despite playing just 10.2 minutes per game, while rookie playmaker Ray Corrigan is the Jeffs' third-leading assist-man with 58. Sophomore forward Tim Jones has also been an effective presence down low, as has senior tri-captain post-player Paul Williams.

Meanwhile, Western Connecticut St., 21-6 and winners of the Little East Conference, defeated Salem State behind a game-high 29 points by senior guard Kevin Matthews. The Colonials are making their eight NCAA Tournament appearance since the 1985-86 season, led by Matthews' 19.0 points-per-game and blistering 64.3 (175-for-272) shooting percentage. Senior guard Lenny Rinas adds 12.3 points-per-game and a team-leading 48 three-pointers to Western Conn.'s 81.6-point scoring average, while sophomore forward Marvin Evans averages 8.1 points and 5.3 rebounds.