Dan O'Shea '07
Photo by Thom Kendall
Junior center Dan O'Shea notched 10 points on five-of-six shooting and pulled down a team-high seven caroms on Saturday.

Tenth-Ranked Jeffs March Past Middlebury, 86-78

February 4, 2006

MIDDLEBURY, VT – The 10th-ranked Amherst College men’s basketball team held off upsetminded NESCAC host Middlebury College on Saturday afternoon for an 86-78 victory. This marks the Jeffs’ ninth straight victory as they improved to 19-2 overall and 6-1 in conference play, while Middlebury dropped to 12-9 (1-6 NESCAC).

Middlebury knocked down 51.0% (26-of-51) of their shots from the field, including seven-of-17 from behind the arc, to notch the third-highest point total relinquished by Amherst this season. Five different players posted double-figures for the Panthers, including sophomores Andrew Harris and Mike Walsh, and first-year Aaron Smith, who tallied 14 points apiece. However, the Jeffs pounded Middlebury on the boards, emerging with a 40-29 rebounding advantage, including an outstanding 18 offensive caroms, and connected on 50.8% (32-of-63) of their own tries from the floor. Senior co-captain John Bedford (Ridgewood, NJ) racked up a game-high 19 points, five rebounds and five assists, while junior Dan Wheeler (Bloomington, MN) added 17 points and four rebounds. Fellow junior Dan O’Shea (Lawrence, MA) was outstanding as well, notching 10 points on nearly flawless five-for-six shooting and pulling down a team-high seven boards.

The Panthers came out of the gates hot, and clung to a narrow edge for the first 4:21 of play. Wheeler gave the Jeffs their first lead of the game on a three-ball off a feed from Andrew Olson (San Diego, CA), one of seven dimes from the sophomore playmaker, and Amherst would never surrender its advantage. Slowly but surely, the Jeffs stretched their lead to double digits, but the hot-handed Panthers hung around, allowing the lead to grow no bigger than 13, and cutting the deficit to seven, 45-38, the break.

Amherst quickly pushed its advantage back into double figures in the second half, using a series of small runs to lead by as many as 15 in the early going. The Panthers would muster one last flurry near the eight-minute mark, pulling within six on a three-pointer from Harris, but the Jeffs regained their composure and held on for the win.

Olson posted his third straight game in double digits, adding 11 points, while junior Tim McLaughlin (Chatham, NJ) had a great all-around game with five points, six rebounds and two assists and sophomore Matt Goldsmith (Morristown, NJ) chipped in eight points and four boards. Junior Chris Dowd and rookie Ben Rudin were the other two Panthers in double figures, tallying 13 and 11 points, respectively, while Rudin posted totals of seven assists, six rebounds and four steals. Smith and Walsh also had seven and six boards, respectively.

With the win Amherst moves into a first-place tie in the NESCAC standings as conference rivals Bates College and Trinity College suffered their first conference losses, falling at Tufts and Williams, respectively.

Amherst returns to action Tuesday at 7 p.m. at non-conference foe Lasell College.