Andrew Olson '08
Tournament MVP Andrew Olson notched seven points and eight assists.

Basketball Cruises Past Thomas for Tourney Championship

November 18, 2006

AMHERST, MA – The Amherst College men’s basketball team took the Ken Wright ’52 Memorial Invitational with a dominating 98-64 win over Thomas College on Saturday afternoon. With the win, the Jeffs move to 2-0 to start the season, and Thomas drops to 1-1.

Amherst – which carried a blazing 60.5% shooting percentage from the floor through the first half – drew first blood. Junior guard Adolphe Coulibaly (Abidjan, Ivory Coast) coasted in for a layup, and then senior quad-captain forward Dan Wheeler (Bloomington, MN) dropped back for a beautiful three-pointer from the baseline to move the score to 5-2. Junior guard and tournament MVP Andrew Olson (San Diego, CA) followed up with a deep trey of his own to bring Amherst to 8-4, before Terrier Aecio Madeira made good with a three of his own to keep the score close. Coulibay shot back with another three off an Olson assist, and found another Olson pass for a layup to inch to 15-9.

Amherst took over from there. Thomas called a timeout at 32-19, but couldn’t stop Amherst’s momentum. The Jeffs went on a five-point run, capped with a senior quad-captain guard Tim McLaughlin (Chatham, NJ) basket, before Thomas would stop the bleeding via a Darrell Alexander jumper. The 16-point lead was all Amherst would need, though. Junior center Kevin Hopkins posted a beautiful layup, slammed a monstrous dunk, and then tipped in a Coulibaly three-point attempt to give Amherst a 55-31 halftime lead.

Olson kicked off the second half in style, with his eighth assist of the game. He drove through the key, and then shot the ball out to McLaughlin, who lifted it for three points. McLaughlin tallied eight of Amherst’s first ten second-half points: after his three-pointer, he notched a layup and another three, Wheeler, meanwhile, sank two throws from the charity stripe to give Amherst a 67-40 lead with 15 minutes left in the game. Senior quad-captain guard Mike Salerno (Shrewsbury, MA) banged a three home with 11 minutes left, before Hopkins pushed a layup off a first-year guard DJ Carcieri (Narragansett, RI) pass.

Thomas put up a good run at the game’s final minutes. Aaron Stred beat out the shot clock for a three from the top of the arc to drop Amherst’s lead to 96-58, and he found the net with five seconds left for two. Hopkins, though, put the last nail in the Terrier coffin with another huge dunk.

Along with his eight assists, Olson made good for seven points. McLaughlin put up 16 points, and Wheeler posted 13. Hopkins scored 12 points, and Salerno chipped in with five assists. Senior quad-captain center Dan O’Shea came up with five rebounds, and sophomore forward Brian Baskauskas (Palo Alto, CA) grabbed six balls off the boards.

In the consolation game, New York City College of Technology nosed out a 66-63 win over Polytechnic University.

Amherst returns to action Tuesday, Nov. 28, when it visits Emmanuel College for a 7:30 p.m. start.

Ken Wright ’52 Memorial Invitational Tournament All-Tournament Team

Amherst College
Tim McLaughlin
Adolphe Coulibaly
Thomas College
Aecio Madeira
New York City College of Technology
Jamaal Hall
Polytechnic University
Tree Williams
Tournament MVP
Andrew Olson (Amherst)