Adolphe Coulibaly '08
Photo by Jeff Brown
Sophomore Adolphe Coulibaly posted 10 points and four rebounds on Saturday.

Top-Seeded Jeffs Post 74-48 NESCAC Tournament Quarterfinal Victory Over Eighth-Seeded Conn. College

February 18, 2006

AMHERST, MA - The top-seeded Amherst College men’s basketball team secured the right to host its second straight NESCAC Tournament Semifinals and Finals with a 74-48 quarterfinal victory over visiting eighth-seeded Connecticut College on Saturday. The Jeffs improve to 23-2 overall and 14-2 all-time in NESCAC Tournament play, while Conn. finishes its season at 13-11.

Amherst dominated most statistical categories, most importantly field goal percentage (.431-.364) and rebounding (47-30) and, after the first 11 minutes of play left little doubt in the victory. Senior co-captain John Bedford did most of the damage, posting 17 points and eight boards, while junior Tim McLaughlin (Chatham, NJ) and sophomore Adolphe Coulibaly (Abidjan, Ivory Coast) came off the bench for 10 points and four rebounds apiece. McLaughlin continued his recent defensive prowess, snatching a game- and career-high five steals, all of which came in the first half.

The Camels hung tough early, nearly matching the Jeffs bucket-for-bucket and allowing the lead to grow no higher than six points through the 7:38-mark. Conn. sophomore Jeff Young (East Hartford, CT) provided most of their offensive spark, hitting his first four shots in route to nine quick points. However, Conn. ran into foul trouble as front-line players Charles Stone (Hackensack, NJ) and Sokul Zejnullahu (Peja, Kosovo) each picked up three fouls, and the Amherst offense finally hit its stride, reeling off a 13-3 run over the next five minutes and cruising into the locker room with a 44-28 edge. Senior co-captain John Casnocha (San Francisco, CA) notched six points in the spurt on the strength of a four-for-four showing at the charity stripe.

The Jeffs extended their lead out to 22 in the first five minutes of the second frame as Bedford drilled a trifecta off a Casnocha feed and then converted an old-fashioned three-point play for a 52-30 advantage. The Camels battled back with seven straight points of their own and managed to keep pace through the eight-minute mark, but Amherst opened another flurry, outscoring Conn. 13-0 over the next three and a half minutes to put the game to bed. Coulibaly canned back-to-back three-balls to ignite the run and McLaughlin capped it with five consecutive points.

Casnocha finished with nine points, five boards and a trio of assists, while junior Dan Wheeler (Bloomington, MN) added nine points, seven caroms and three dimes. Sophomore Matt Goldsmith (Morristown, NJ) matched Casnocha on the glass with five rebounds.

Young led Conn. with 16 points and four boards. Stone and Zejnullahu each nearly missed double-doubles as Young had nine points and eight rebounds, while Zejnullahu chipped in seven points and seven rebounds.

Amherst is set to face fourth-seeded Bates College, which topped No. 5 seed Bowdoin College 67-51 in the first-round, while second-seeded Trinity College edged No. 7 seed Colby College, 84-81, for the chance to battle third-seeded Tufts University, which posted a 101-89 win over sixth-seeded Williams, in the other semifinal matchup. Amherst hosts Bates at 2 p.m., while the Trinity vs. Tufts gametime is set for 4 p.m.

BOX SCORE/PLAY-BY-PLAY

NESCAC Postseason Tournament Seedings
Quarterfinals – Saturday, February 18 at higher seeds
No. 8 Connecticut College 48 at No. 1 Amherst 74
No. 7 Colby 81 at No. 2 Trinity 84
No. 6 Williams 89 at No. 3 Tufts 101
No. 5 Bowdoin 51 at No. 4 Bates 67

Semifinals – Saturday, February 25 at Amherst College
No. 4 Bates at No. 1 Amherst (2 p.m.)
No. 3 Tufts vs. No. 2 Trinity (4 p.m.)

Championship – Sunday, February 26 at 12:00 p.m.
Semifinal winners