FKevin Hopkins '08
Kevin Hopkins totaled 15 points, four blocks and six rebounds in the win

Jeffs Hand Brandeis First Loss to Remain Unbeaten

December 9, 2006

AMHERST, MA – The Amherst College men’s basketball team realized as soon as the first whistle blew that Brandeis University was going to be tougher than any other opponent the Lord Jeffs have faced this season. After battling with the Judges for the first ten minutes of the game, Amherst took over and demonstrated why it is the second-ranked team in the nation, taking a 14-point lead into halftime and finishing with an 84-74 victory.

Prior to today’s game, the Jeffs had normally had a considerable lead midway through the first half, but after nine minutes of play junior tri-captain Florian Rexhepi (Skopje, Macedonia) hit a three-pointer from the corner to give the Judges a 15-14 lead. Amherst did not panic, as junior point guard Andrew Olson (San Diego, CA) converted on jumpers on two consecutive possessions to give the Jeffs a 20-16 lead with eight minutes remaining in the half.

Some Amherst foul trouble put Brandeis in double bonus with seven minutes remaining in the half, but the Judges failed to take full advantage of their opportunity to climb back into the game with free throws, as the Jeffs played smart defense the rest of the way and stepped up on offense with big plays. With six minutes remaining in the half, junior Fletcher Walters (Ann Arbor, MI) converted on a three-point play opportunity and followed up with a block on the other end. Three minutes later, junior Kevin Hopkins followed up on a missed Amherst lay-up and threw down a powerful two-handed dunk that sent the packed Amherst crowd into an uproar, giving the Jeffs some momentum before heading into the locker room with a 39-25 lead.

The Judges began the second half with some hot shooting, but Amherst responded to every Brandeis attempt at a comeback with big plays of its own. Sophomore Kevin Olson (Rockport, MA) opened the half with a runner off the glass to cut the lead to 12, but senior quad-captain Tim McLaughlin (Chatham, NJ) responded by converting on a three-point play attempt. Kevin Olson came back with a three-pointer to cut the lead to 10, but Andrew Olson responded with a fade-away jumper to further prevent a momentum swing.

Brandeis hung with the Jeffs for the entire second half and never allowed the lead to grow too large. Even after a Walters dunk got the crowd going, the Judges quickly responded with a fast-break lay-up to keep the lead at nine, trailing 51-42 with 13 minutes remaining. Although the Judges never let the lead get out of hand, they did not have enough momentum to pull within range of Amherst, as the Jeffs played a consistent second half and held on to with their seventh game of the season, 84-74.

Olson, Walters and Hopkins each finished in double digits for Amherst, scoring 15, 16 and 15 points, respectively, while sophomore Brian Baskauskas (Palo Alto, CA) added 14 points of his own. Olson added nine assists, Hopkins added four blocks and six rebounds, and Walters and Baskauskas pulled down six and seven rebounds, respectively. Senior quad-captain Dan O’Shea (Lawrence, MA) played another solid all-around game, chipping in with eight points and eight rebounds.

The leading scorer on the night was junior tri-captain Steve DeLuca (Merrimack, NH), who totaled 30 points for the Judges and added eight rebounds. Kevin Olson and Amherst-native Kwame Graves-Fulgham (Amherst, MA) also scored in double digits, scoring 15 and 10 points, respectively.

Brandeis suffers its first loss of the season, but certainly has much to take out of playing Amherst so well. The young team with no seniors outscored the Lord Jeffs in the second half, 49-45, and will surely be a threat next season, as well as for the remainder of the 2006-07 season.

Amherst improves to 7-0 with the win, and will travel to Worcester State College for a non-conference match-up December 12 at 7 p.m.