Junior point guard Andrew Olson moved into fifth place on the Amherst all-time assists ladder.

Jeffs Win in Blowout, Olson Climbs Assists Ladder

December 1, 2006

AMHERST, MA – In the opening game of the sixth annual Pioneer Valley Classic, the Amherst College Lord Jeffs posted a blowout win over visiting Western New England College, 92-56 before a crowd of over three hundred. The second game of the night saw Westfield State beat Springfield, 75-72.

The Lord Jeffs came out gunning and started the game on a 9-0 run. Amherst extended their early lead to eleven points when Senior quad-captain Dan Wheeler (Bloomington, MN) buried a three pointer just three minutes into the game to make the score 14-3.

Amherst continued to dominate the first half, seemingly getting every good bounce, as junior point guard Andrew Olson (San Diego, CA) rained in a long three with less than five seconds on the shot clock to extend the lead to 25-11. Amherst was winning with accurate outside shooting, and great hustle, as demonstrated by senior quad-captain Mike Salerno (Shrewsbury, MA). With Amherst up fourteen and 8:33 left in the first half, Salerno dove, fully extended for a loose ball, which sprung Brandon Jones (Hopatcong, NJ) for a breakaway dunk.

The exciting Jones slam, trigger a scoring spurt by Amherst in which the Lord Jeffs hit a three, then had an un-converted three-point play lead to an offensive rebound, and a put-back lay-up. The spurt finished with Adolphe Coulibaly (Abidjan, Ivory Coast) 2-handed dunk to go up twenty points at 41-21.

In second half action, Amherst was able to get valuable playing time to a number of non-starters. Second half highlights include an alley-oop from Olson to Coulibaly capping a 12-0 Amherst run, and a Kevin Hopkins (Greenfield Center, NY) breakaway lay-in to stretch the lead over thirty for the first time. Additionally, Olson moved into fifth place on Amherst's all-time assists ladder during the game.

WNEC’s Matt Maynard (Paterson, NJ) led the Golden Bears in scoring with 13 points, but it was not enough, as the Lord Jeffs capped the night off with a win.

While game one of the Pioneer Valley Classic was exciting, but not necessarily close, game two came down to last second heroics. While the first half of action was very back-and-forth, a late scoring run by Springfield College left the Owls of Westfield State trailing by 8 at the break. 

The Owls came out of halftime with renewed energy, and drew even with the Pride with around nine minutes to go. Leading scorer’s John Strawson for Springfield, and Curtis Gadles for Westfield went bucket for bucket in the weaning minutes, as both players left everything on the floor.

Westfield State received significant second half contributions from senior Gavin Illangakoon, who finished the night with a dozen points. With only 22.8 seconds remaining, Westfield’s Matt Badjo hit a 15 foot jumper from the baseline to give the Owls a 73-72 lead.

Springfield called for a time-out and head coach Charlie Brock, drew up a play for the final possession. The ball ended in Gregg Daly’s hands, but he was unable to convert on a jumper for the win, and Westfield’s Dave Jaehnig was fouled on the rebound. Jaehnig knocked down both his rebounds to seal the game at 75-72, as a last second desperation three from Springfield fell short.

Tomorrow afternoon, WNEC will face Westfield State at 1:00pm before the tournament rounds out with an Amherst-Springfield 3:00 pm showdown.