|Jeffs Advance to NCAA Tournament Sectional Championship|
Jeffs Steal Overtime Thriller From Tufts, 90-85, Advance to NCAA Tournament Sectional Championship to Face St. John Fisher
March 10, 2006
Sophomore playmaker Andrew Olson (San Diego, CA) etched his name into Amherst history, sinking an off-balance three-pointer as regulation expired to force the extra session, where the Jeffs claimed their second straight overtime victory and third win this season over the Jumbos. Olson capped an amazing night of no-look passes, which consistently forced the standing-room-only crowd at LeFrak Gymnasium into frenzy, with “The Shot,” finishing with 11 points and seven assists.
The momentum carried directly into overtime, where the Jeffs hit 10-of-13 charity tosses, while holding the Jumbos to just 22.2% (two-for-nine) from the floor to come away with the win. Amherst overcame a 52-37 rebounding disadvantage as Tufts turned 20 offensive boards into 25 second-chance points. Amherst tied a single-season school record with its 27th victory, while Tufts wrapped up its season with a school-record 23 wins of its own.
Amherst controlled the early going, holding a small advantage for the first 10 minutes, but the Jumbos kept it a dogfight as the lead changed hands nine times in the final half of the opening frame. Junior Dan Wheeler (Bloomington, MN) paced Amherst in the first half notching 10 points, four rebounds and three blocks, while junior David Shepherd (Grantham, NH) and sophomores Jake Weitzen (New York, NY) and Jeremy Black (Jamesville, NY) led a balanced Tufts’ effort with eight, seven and six points, respectively, as Amherst clung to a narrow 35-34 edge at the half.
The lead bounced back-and-forth early in the second session, with neither team really able to establish dominance. Tufts managed to solidify control near the nine-minute mark, holding a slight lead down the stretch. The Jeffs continually battled to a tie score, but couldn’t get over the hump, allowing the Jumbos to continually lurch back into the lead. Amherst seemed to gain momentum at the 3:45-mark as senior co-captain John Bedford (Ridgewood, NJ) hammered home an old-fashioned three-point play to cut it to one, 68-67, and fellow senior co-captain John Casnocha (San Francisco, CA) picked the pocket of junior Brian Kumf (Milford, MA) on the ensuing possession, but a trio of missed layups by the Jeffs allowed Tufts to hold on to the lead. After trading a few buckets, Tufts senior Dan Martin (Sandwich, MA) hit the tail-end of a pair at the free-throw line to put the Jumbos up four, 73-69, with just 26 ticks left on the clock. A speedy layup from Olson hacked it back to a two-point edge and a quick Amherst foul sent Weitzen to the line for a chance to stretch the advantage back to four. Weitzen missed the first of two free throws, leaving the door open for Olson’s heroics.
Wheeler and sophomore Matt Goldsmith (Morristown, NJ) banged inside to grab the early overtime advantage for the Jeffs, and stellar free-throw shooting sealed the win. Bedford led all scorers with 24 points and five assists, while Wheeler was outstanding, finishing with 22 points, 10 boards and four blocks. Fellow junior Dan O’Shea (Lawrence, MA) knocked down seven-of-10 from the floor for 15 points, while Casnocha grabbed 13 rebounds and a trio of steals.
Kumf paced Tufts with 21 points and nine boards, while Martin chipped in a double-double, adding 11 points and 11 caroms. Weitzen tallied 17 points and seven rebounds and Shepherd finished with 13 points.
Both Amherst and St. John Fisher escaped their fates of a year ago as the pair were bounced out of the NCAA Sectional at Amherst. The Jeffs and Cardinals last faced off in the first round of the 2001 NCAA Tournament, where Amherst posted an 89-76 victory.
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