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Amherst College > Athletics > Men's Basketball > Jeffs Set to Host NESCAC Championship
   
Head Coach David Hixon '75
Head Coach David Hixon '75 is shooting for his third straight NESCAC Tournament crown.

10th-Ranked and Top-Seeded Amherst Set to Host NESCAC Men's Basketball Championship

February 26, 2003

AMHERST, MA - The 10th-ranked and top-seeded Amherst College men’s basketball team will vie for its third straight conference championship and a fourth consecutive trip to the NCAA Tournament this weekend when it hosts the NESCAC Tournament semifinals and championship game on Saturday and Sunday. Ticket prices are $5 for adults and $2 for students with valid ID. Children under 10 are free.

Amherst opens semifinal play Saturday at 2 p.m. against fourth-seeded Wesleyan University, followed by a 4 p.m. matchup between second-seeded Williams College and third-seeded Tufts University. The winners will square off for the conference championship Sunday at noon with an automatic berth in the NCAA Tournament at stake. Amherst’s games will be webcast live on the Internet by campus radio station WAMH. Visit the Amherst Athletics Website at www.amherst.edu/sports for details. Sunday’s championship game will also be Webcast live on www.D3hoops.com.

The host Lord Jeffs enter the conference semifinals at 21-3, having won six straight after an 83-66 upset loss at Tufts on January 31st, which was the only blemish on an otherwise perfect 8-1 conference run. Amherst prevailed 78-67 over visiting eighth-seeded Bowdoin College in last Saturday’s NESCAC quarterfinals, thanks in part to a 20-point, 17-rebound, six-block performance by senior center Pat Fitzsimons (Durham, NC), who scored his 1,000th career point on a spectacular alley-oop dunk late in the first half. Preseason All-American and Jostens Trophy Player of the Year finalist Steve Zieja (Hadley, MA) added 20 points in the win, while senior point guard Ryan Faulkner (Lebanon, NH) dished out a game-high eight assists. Together, Fitzsimons, Zieja and Faulkner have led the Jeffs to a school-record 84 wins over four seasons, including a perfect 7-0 record in NESCAC Tournament play, and could emerge as the first Amherst class ever to play in four NCAA Tournaments.

Wesleyan (14-9/5-4 NESCAC) advanced to the semifinals with an 88-76 quarterfinal victory over visiting No. 5 seed Trinity College. Junior guard Kaela Mills earned NESCAC Player of the Week honors after pouring in a tournament record 39 points on 13-for-18 shooting, including a 4-for-5 showing from the three-point arc. Wesleyan also boasts junior forward Kanem Johnson, who leads the conference in scoring at 21.0 points per game and is 11th in rebounding at 7.0 boards per outing.

Williams enters the conference semifinals at 24-1 (8-1 NESCAC) after its 85-69 quarterfinal win over seventh-seeded Bates College, earning a No. 3 ranking in Monday’s D3hoops.com national poll. Their only loss came at Amherst, 67-61, on January 25th, after downing the Jeffs 74-65 in a non-league matchup earlier in the season. The Ephs list five players among the NESCAC’s top 30 in scoring, led by junior guard Michael Crotty’s 12.5 points per game. Crotty also leads the conference and is second in the nation at 7.40 assists per game.

Tufts (12-12/5-4 NESCAC) proved it could play with the conference’s elite when it upset visiting Amherst earlier this year. The Jumbos outlasted visiting sixth-seeded Middlebury College 89-81 in the quarterfinals. Sophomore center Craig Coupe led the way with 19 points and 13 rebounds. Coupe is the conference’s leading rebounder, pulling down 11.5 caroms on a nightly basis.