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Ryan Faulkner '03
Senior point guard Ryan Faulkner handed out a game-high seven assists in the win

10th-Ranked Jeffs Post Fourth-Straight Lopsided Victory, 90-60, Over Middlebury

January 24, 2003

AMHERST, MA - Friday nightís lopsided 90-60 win over visiting NESCAC rival Middlebury College - their fourth straight victory by at least 29 points - was full of good signs for the 10th-ranked Amherst menís basketball team. For one thing, senior center Pat Fitzsimons (Durham, NC) returned to the lineup for the first time in six games, his tender hamstring seemingly healed, pouring in 10 points on 5-for-6 shooting with five blocks and four rebounds in just 15 minutes. Senior forward Steve Zieja (Hadley, MA) was back to his usual dominating form, hitting 10 of 14 from the field for a game-high 25 points. Senior point guard Ryan Faulkner (Lebanon, NH) played a near flawless game, draining three of his four shots for eight points, while dropping a game-high seven dimes. Even the bench was solid, with sophomore forward Andrew Schiel (Wayne, PA) leading the charge with 10 points, six boards and four blocks as one of six Amherst reserves to crack the scoring column.

The Jeffs run of stellar play couldnít come at a better time either, with Saturdayís 3 p.m. tilt against visiting third-ranked and undefeated Williams College right around the corner. In preparation, the Jeffs took a business-like approach against Middlebury, who were game in defeat, trailing by just 10 points, 38-28 at the half.

Amherst opened the game with a 17-6 flurry, with Fitzsimons scoring six points on perfect 3-for-3 shooting and Zieja adding the rest at a 4-for-5 clip, including a three-pointer and a pair of free throws. Middlebury managed to keep its deficit right around 10 points for the rest of the half, however, and appeared to have the last laugh when junior guard Koby Altman (Brooklyn, NY) banked home a runner with six seconds left before the break. Not to be outdone, Faulkner took the ball the length of the floor and nailed a wild scoop shot as time expired, giving the Jeffs a wealth of momentum, not to mention a 10-point halftime cushion.

Amherst exploded in the second half, sealing the game with a backbreaking 12-0 run, capped by a Zieja jumper for a 53-34 lead with 15:37 remaining. Middlebury would never recover, and Schiel brought the house down with a highlight reel dunk off a slick behind the back feed from rookie shooting guard John Bedford (Ridgewood, NJ), who handed out four assists.

Middlebury had balanced scoring but placed only one player in double figures, junior Nate Anderson (Hinesburg, VT), who finished with 12 points. The Panthers fell to 10-5 overall, 0-2 in NESCAC play, with the loss. Their 2-for-22 shooting from behind the arc didnít help. Amherst improved to 14-2 and 3-0.

Zieja upped his career scoring total to 1,504 points, surpassing Yram Groff í89 as the collegeís third all-time leading scorer. Next on the list are Jim Rehnquist í77 (1,512 points) and Jamal Wilson í97 (1,550 points).

Saturdayís menís and womenís doubleheader against Williams, starting with the menís game at 3 p.m., will be Webcast live on the Internet by campus radio station WAMH (visit www.amherst.edu/sports for details). Admission is $3 for adults and $1 for students. Children under 10 and Amherst students and staff with valid ID will be admitted free.

Box Score / Play-by-Play