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John Donovan '04
Junior guard John Donovan (left) drained a clutch three at the halftime buzzer to give the Jeffs a 35-25 lead at the break

10th-Ranked Jeffs Stun No. 3 Williams, 67-61

January 25, 2003

AMHERST, MA - The 10th-ranked Amherst College men's basketball team handed visiting third-ranked Williams College (14-1/2-1 NESCAC) its first loss of the season on Saturday, stunning the visiting Ephs 67-61 in front of a raucous overflow crowd at LeFrak Gymnasium. Amherst, which moved into sole possession of first place in the NESCAC at 15-2 overall and 4-0 in conference play, jumped out to a 17-point lead in the first half and withstood a furious Williams rally down the stretch, avenging a 74-65 non-league loss in Williamstown earlier in the season.

Junior guard Adam Harper (Washington, DC) opened the scoring with a wing-jumper on Amherst's first possession as the Jeffs jumped out to an early 23-6 lead, holding Williams scoreless for a span of over seven minutes in the first half. Amherst used its defense to ignite its offense during the barrage. Harper and sophomore Ray Corrigan (Queens, NY) were particularly aggressive, victimizing Williams point guard Michael Crotty (Belmont, NY) with steals on consecutive possessions; Harper's resulting in a breakaway dunk and Corrigan's ending with a with a reverse lay-in by junior sharpshooter John Donovan (Holmdel, NJ), sending the home crowd into a bleacher-rattling frenzy.

Williams battled back, however, and cut the lead to seven points with 26 seconds left before the break, thanks to a rebound and put-back by senior reserve Tim Folan (Kensington, MD). With the momentum clearly shifted toward Williams, Amherst patiently worked the clock for the final shot of the half. Senior forward Steve Zieja (Hadley, MA) drove the lane and found Donovan in the corner for a wide-open three at the buzzer, and Amherst took a 35-25 lead into the locker room at halftime.

home crowd
Saturday's game drew one of the largest crowds in recent memory
The Jeffs widened the gap to 13 points in the second half but, just when it looked like the hosts would cruise down the stretch, Folan surfaced out of nowhere, raining three-pointers from all over the court. In fact, on consecutive possessions, Folan dropped a trio of long-range bombs with defenders draped all over him, and the Ephs suddenly trailed by just four points, 46-42, with 9:36 remaining.

The lead would shrink to one point 1:37 later on a pair of free throws by Crotty, but that was as close as Williams would get. The Jeffs jacked the lead back to seven points with a clutch three-point play by Zieja, and Amherst hit each of it last 10 free throw attempts to seal the win.

Amherst placed four players in double figures. Harper led the way with 15 points (on 7-for-11 shooting), seven boards, three blocks and three steals. Zieja chipped in with 13 points, followed by senior center Pat Fitzsimons (Durham, NC) with 11 and Donovan with 10. Zieja moved to No. 2 on Amherst's all-time scoring list with 1,517 career points, passing Jim Rehnquist '77. Next on the list is Jamal Wilson '97, who holds the school record with 1,550 career points.

Folan's four three-pointers were good for a game-high 16 points for Williams. Juniors Ben Coffin (Westford, MA) and Chuck Abba (Delmar, NY) added 11 each.

Amherst returns to action Friday at 7 p.m. at NESCAC rival Tufts University. The Jeffs have won six straight since losing at Williams two weeks ago, dispatching opponents by an average of over 23 points.

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