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Amherst College > Athletics > Men's Basketball > Jeffs Set for Williams Twinbill
   
Russell Lee '05
Senior sharpshooter Russell Lee averages 9.6 points to go along with 41 assists and a team-high 34 steals.

Basketball Teams Set for Friday Night Twinbill Against Visiting Williams

February 3, 2005

AMHERST, MA – The Amherst College men's and women's basketball teams will host Little Three rival Williams College in an all-important New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) doubleheader Friday evening at LeFrak Gymnasium. The women will tip off at 5:30 p.m. with the men to follow shortly thereafter. Both games will be Webcast live by Amherst College campus radio station WAMH (visit www.amherst.edu/sports for details), with a brief pre-game show to air at approximately 5:20.

Admission is $3.00 for adults, and tickets can be purchased at the door on a first-come, first-served basis. Amherst and Williams students with valid ID and children under 10 will be admitted free.

The men's matchup features two teams headed in seemingly opposite directions. While Amherst has already clinched the outright Little Three title with wins over Wesleyan and Williams and sports a stellar 17-1 (5-0 NESCAC) record and a No. 4 national ranking, Williams (14-6/2-3 NESCAC) has dropped five of its last eight, including an 88-78 non-league loss to the visiting Lord Jeffs on Jan. 8. Still, Williams is the two-time defending NESCAC Champion and came within mere seconds of wining its second straight National Championship last season, and the Ephs hope to turn their season around with a victory at Amherst. Williams is led by senior forward Tucker Kain, the third leading scorer and rebounder in the NESCAC at 18.5 points and 9.5 boards per game, respectively, while senior guard Jaris Cole ranks fourth in the conference in steals (2.20/gm) and seventh in assists (3.95/gm).

Meanwhile, Amherst, the only undefeated squad in NESCAC play, enters the weekend as the top team in New England, fresh off Tuesday night’s hard-fought 65-61 win over visiting Brandeis. The Jeffs’ average margin of victory is a conference-best 17.7 points, and they lead the league in scoring defense (62.1 ppg), field goal percentage (.481), three-point field goal percentage defense (.263), blocked shots (5.33/gm) and three-pointers made (8.06/gm).

Preseason All-America senior forward Andrew Schiel (Wayne, PA) paces the Amherst scoring attack at 16.1 points per game on the strength of the NESCAC’s second highest field goal percentage (.577). He’s followed in the scoring column by junior slashers John Bedford (Ridgewood, NJ) and John Casnocha (San Francisco, CA) at 13.9 and 10.3 points per game, respectively. Casnocha paces the team in both rebounding (6.0/gm) and three-pointers (38). Rookie playmaker Andrew Olson (San Diego, CA) has excelled since taking the reigns from senior Ray Corrigan (Queens, NY), who suffered a season-ending injury earlier this year. The precocious Olson spearheads the offense with a team-best 70 assists to go along with a 6.4-point scoring average, and senior sharpshooter Russell Lee (Lorton, VA) rounds out the starting five at 9.6 points per game to go along with 41 assists and a team-high 34 steals. Off the bench, expect big things from 6’ 7” sophomore forward Dan O’Shea (Lawrence, MA) and classmates Dan Wheeler (Bloomington, MN) and Tim McLaughlin (Chatham, NJ). Junior point guard Keith Zalaski (Simsbury, MA) could see valuable minutes in relief of Olson.

The Jeffs have won nine of their last 10 homes games against the Ephs and 11 of the last 19 meetings overall. Williams, which finished the 2003-04 season with a record of 30-2, leads the all-time series 112-75.

On the women's side, Williams sports a 15-5 (4-1 NESCAC) record but has lost three of its last four, including (most recently) an 86-73 non-league setback at Springfield. Amherst (12-7/3-2 NESCAC) has dropped three of its last four as well despite solid play from a cadre of newcomers – first-years Matia Kostakis (Andover, MA), Stefanie Reiff (Hinsdale, IL) and Shaina Pollack (Great Neck, NY) and sophomore transfer Jenny Muller (Andover, MA). Kostakis and Muller are tied for the team lead in scoring at 10.3 points per game, while Kostakis leads the NESCAC in rebounding (10.7/gm) and Muller tops the Jeffs’ in three-pointers (22). Junior starters Katie Latham (Wakefield, MA) and Krissy Morin (Litchfield, NH) are each among the conference leaders in a bevy of statistical categories, while junior center Julie Smith (Villanova, PA) solidifies the bench with a conference-best 27 blocks.

Amherst’s women haven’t beaten Williams since January 13, 2001 – a 68-63 overtime victory in Williamstown. The Ephs has won eight straight in the series and 11 of the last 13 overall. Amherst last defeated Williams at home, 53-50, on January 15, 2000.