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Russell Lee '05
Senior sharpshooter Russell Lee, shown torching the Ephs on Friday night, led all scorers with 20 points on the strength of five impossibly deep three-pointers.

Red-Hot Russell Torches Ephs

February 4, 2005

AMHERST, MA - Senior sharpshooter Russell Lee (Lorton, VA) drained five three-pointers and poured in a game-high 20 points to lead the fourth-ranked Amherst College men's basketball team to a dominating 72-45 win over visiting NESCAC and Little Three archrival Williams College in front of a raucous standing-room only crowd on Friday night. With the win, Amherst completed a regular-season sweep against Williams, improving to 18-1 overall and remaining undefeated in NESCAC play at 6-0. Williams has now lost six of its last nine, falling to 14-7 (2-4 NESCAC).

The Jeffs blew Williams’ doors off right from the opening tip as Lee nailed a pull-up jumper 20 seconds into the game to spark a paralyzing 24-6 run from which the reeling Ephs would never recover. In fact, Williams managed just four points in the first 14 minutes and scored only 13 in the opening half, thanks to anemic 21.4% (6-for-28) shooting from the field, including a 1-for-9 clip from behind the arc.

While Williams couldn’t find the bucket, everything was falling for Lee, who splashed an NBA three-pointer that turned into a four-point play when he was hacked in the act by Williams senior Michael Graham (Sidney, NY). He then gave Amherst a 41-13 lead at the break when he swished an even deeper trifecta with just five seconds left, which sent the packed house into an absolute spectacle of frenzy.

Lee ignited the second half with yet another long-range bomb that was even deeper than the previous two and connected again from nearly the same spot for a whopping 51-20 Lord Jeff cushion with 15:39 remaining. And while the flame-throwing Lee was firing on all cylinders, Amherst senior co-captain Andrew Schiel (Wayne, PA), juniors John Bedford (Ridgewood, NJ) and John Casnocha (San Francisco, CA) and rookie point guard Andrew Olson (San Diego, CA) were nearly as spectacular, snapping the ball around the perimeter at will en route to open shot after open shot. Among countless highlights were a Schiel three-pointer off a behind the back drop-pass from Olson, a no-look feed from Olson to a cutting Bedford for an easy backdoor bucket, a textbook give-and-go from Casnocha to Schiel and Bedford scoring on a four-on-one break spurred by a Dan O’Shea (Lawrence, MA) rejection.

LeFrak Gymnasium
The spectators who packed LeFrak Gymnasium included a caped purple man and a cadre of shirtless hoops fanatics.
Amherst’s reserves took over and outscored Williams 10-8 over the final 4:19. O’Shea helped cement the rout with a gorgeous jump-hook for a three-point play, and crowd favorite Mike Salerno (Shrewsbury, MA) banked home a lefty scoop shot and then fed fellow sophomore Dan Fisher (Oakland, CA) for a wide-open backdoor layup. Ten different Amherst players found the scoring column in all, including sophomores Dan Wheeler (Bloomington, MN) and Tim McLaughlin (Chatham, NJ), who along with O’Shea and junior Keith Zalaski (Simsbury, CT) contributed valuable minutes off the bench.

Lee’s 20 points came on 7-for-14 shooting, including a 5-for-9 showing from downtown. Schiel added 15 points and tied Casnocha with a team-high seven rebounds, while Bedford chipped in with 13 points and six caroms. Casnocha stood out on defense as well, holding Williams senior Tucker Kain (Cleveland, OH), who entered the game as the NESCAC’s third leading scorer, to just four points on 2-for-11 shooting. Olson had a stellar night with nine points and four assists and turned the ball over just once in 34 minutes.

Junior forward Andrew Newton (Whitinsville, MA) was the lone Williams player in double figures with 11 points.

Amherst returns to action tomorrow (Saturday) at 3 p.m. against visiting NESCAC foe Middlebury College.

Box Score/Play-by-Play