Dan Wheeler '07
Junior forward Dan Wheeler took home all-tournament honors after notching 16 points and seven rebounds on Saturday.

Fourth-Ranked Jeffs Smash Pioneer Valley Classic Records with 102-77 Win Over Westfield St.

Olson Takes Home Pioneer Valley Classic MVP Honors

December 3, 2005

SPRINGFIELD, MA - The fourth-ranked Amherst College men's basketball team broke the Pioneer Valley Classic (PVC) record for points in a game, crushing Westfield State College on Saturday afternoon at Western New England College, 102-77. Amherst improved to 4-0 on the year and remains undefeated in the five-year history of the PVC (10-0), while Westfield St. dropped to 3-3 on the season.

Sophomore point guard Andrew Olson (San Diego, CA) earned PVC MVP honors as he led the Jeffs in scoring for the second straight game, netting 17 points on six-for-nine shooting, including a flawless five-for-five mark from three-point land. The Jeffs shot a ridiculous 50.7% (37-for-73) from the floor, including an even more ludicrous 61.5% (16-for-26) from behind the arc, setting another tournament record for three-point makes in a game. They also outrebounded the Owls 41-31, including a 16-7 edge on the offensive end.

The game was a battle early as Westfield St. grabbed an quick lead on the strength of trifectas from sophomore Tony Collier (Colchester, VT) and junior Gavin Illangakoon (Ellington, CT), but five consecutive points from Amherst senior co-captain John Bedford (Ridgewood, NJ) gave the Jeffs a 12-8 edge and solid control of the game.

A series of long-range shots from Olson and sophomore teammate Adolphe Coulibaly (Abidjan, Ivory Coast) helped Amherst out to a 32-17 advantage near the midway point of the half. The Jeffs maintained the double-digit cushion until the waning minutes of the opening frame as Westfield St. stormed back, scoring nine straight points to make it a five-point game with just over a minute left.

The Jeffs regrouped in the closing seconds as junior all-tournament honoree Dan Wheeler (Bloomington, MN) coverted a three-point opportunity on an Illangakoon foul and senior co-captain John Casnocha (San Francisco, CA) drilled a three-ball with just three ticks left to give Amherst a 44-35 edge at the break.

Amherst knocked down its first four three-pointers of the second session to rebuild its lead to 19, 64-45, in the opening five minutes, and the Jeffs would never look back. Sophomore center Kevin Hopkins (Greenfield Center, NY) used a six-point scoring flurry near the 12-minute mark to give Amherst its biggest lead of the contest, 76-51, and the Jeff reserves maintained the advantage down the stretch to coast to victory.

Wheeler posted his fourth straight game in double-figures, knocking in 16 points and grabbing seven caroms, while Bedford and Hopkins chipped in 13 points apiece, a career-high for Hopkins. Casnocha carried a hot-hand as well, cashing in four-of-five from the floor en route to 10 points.

Collier led Westfield St. with 18 points, while senior Mike Jurkowski (Belchertown, MA) tallied 11 points and eight rebounds. Junior Curtis Gadles (Pembroke, MA) added 10 points and four boards.

Amherst returns to action Tuesday at 7 p.m. against visiting non-conference rival WNEC.