Jeffs Hold Off Williams, 59-57, To Capture Little III Title|
January 19, 2001
AMHERST, MA. - Senior co-captain Brian Daoust (Dover, MA) hit a jumper with 1:04 remaining to put Amherst College ahead for good, as the Jeffs clawed back from a 12-point second-half deficit to defeat arch-rival Williams College, 59-57. Sophomore Steve Zieja (Hadley, MA) led the hosts with game-highs of 16 points and 13 rebounds.
|Rookie point guard Adam Harper |
helped ice the game with clutch
free throws down the stretch
Despite the large LeFrak Gymnasium crowd, the historic and heated rivalry between the two schools, and a stake of the Little III title hanging in the balance, both teams shot the ball anemically in the first half, scoring 22 points apiece. Amherst managed only 25% from the field in the opening period, while Williams fared slightly better, hitting 30.4% of their shots. The presence of Eph center Manny Benjamin (Harare, Zimbabwe) in the post caused the Jeffs to alter many of their shots, and the hosts could not buy a bucket from outside.
Williams came out of the locker room in the second half with aggressive defense, holding the Jeffs without a field goal for the first eight minutes of the period. Meanwhile, the Eph offense began to heat up, and a three-pointer from sophomore forward Tim Folan (Kensington, MD) gave the visitors a 41-31 lead with 10:06 remaining. Williams would lead by as many as 12 before Amherst began their comeback. Back-to-back three-pointers by first-year guard Adam Harper (Washington D.C.) and senior Co-captain Erik Kelly (Staples, MN) narrowed the gap to five, reigniting the largely pro-Amherst crowd.
However, Williams had an answer for all of the Jeff field goals, and a lay-up by Benjamin with 5:29 to go gave the visitors a 50-43 advantage. With Amherst in the bonus with 14:30 remaining, the Jeffs battled back from the foul line. For the game, the Lord Jeffs hit 23 of their 30 foul shots, while Williams only managed a paltry nine of 20 from the charity stripe. Eventually, a jumper by Kelly would knot the score at 50, but a lay-in by Benjamin gave Williams a 54-53 lead with 2:10 left.
After the Daoust lay-up, Williams attempted to get the ball inside to Benjamin, but a suffocating Jeff defense prevented that from happening before the shot clock expired with 39 seconds left. The guests fouled Harper, though the freshman guard left the door open by only making one of two from the line. Williams again tried to tie the game, but senior co-captain Andrew Conley (Wakefield, MA) missed an open jumper from just inside the arc, and the Jeffs hit their foul shots the rest of the way, though a late three-pointer by Eph point-guard Michael Crotty (Belmont, MA) made the score closer.
|A capacity crowd watched the |
Jeffs win their second outright
Little III title in three years
With the victory, Amherst captures the Little III Championship, and completes a sweep of Williams after a 73-64 win in Williamstown last Saturday. The senior class of Daoust, Kelly, and Abe Sexson (Athens, Greece) has never lost to Williams at home in their four years, with a 6-2 record overall against the Ephs. However, Williams still holds a 105-71 edge in the all-time series.
Harper and Daoust were the only other Jeffs in double-figures, scoring 11 and 10 points respectively. Folan led Williams with 14 points and 10 rebounds, though only three of his points came in the second half. The Ephs fall to 9-4 with the loss, and play tomorrow at Trinity College. Amherst improves to 10-1 with their ninth consecutive win, and will go for 10 Saturday afternoon against Middlebury College.
Game Box Score