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Zieja's Third Double-Double Leads Amherst Past Westfield State, 80-75
December 9, 2000

Stephen Zieja
Zieja '03 notched his
third double-double
AMHERST, Mass. - The Amherst College men's basketball team used a 15-0 run early in the second half to overcome a five-point halftime deficit, holding off a late charge from visiting Westfield State College to post an 80-75 win over the Owls on Saturday night, the Jeffs' fourth victory in five games. Amherst sophomore Steve Zieja (Hadley, MA) paced the Jeffs with 19 points and 14 rebounds, his third double-double of the season.

The two teams traded baskets for the first five minutes of the opening half, before Westfield State first-year Vaso Jaukovic (Springfield, MA) led the Owls on a 14-4 run, taking a 24-14 lead with 11:14 remaining. The Jeffs retaliated with 12-4 run of their own, anchored by Zieja, before eventually tying the game at 31. The Owls ran off the last five points before halftime, including a late steal and fast-break layup from sophomore guard Ethan Slavin (Mohegan Lake, NY), to take a 42-37 lead into the locker room.

After halftime, a layup from Owl senior Kris Kachelmeyer (Bernardston, MA) put Westfield State up by seven, before the Jeffs began to get going. Senior Tri-captain Erik Kelly (Staples, MN) converted a feed from fellow Tri-captain Abe Sexson (Athens, Greece) to open what would end up as a 15-0 Amherst run, as the Owls missed eight consecutive shots over a span of 4:28. Jaukovic stopped the damage with a jumper to cut Amherst's lead to 52-46, and the Owls would slowly chip away at the Jeff advantage until a three-pointer from Slavin closed the visitors to within one, at 67-66, with 6:23 to play.

Down the stretch, however, the Jeffs' offense executed when it had to, with a three-pointer from Tri-captain Brian Daoust (Dover, MA) on the ensuing possession putting the hosts back up by four, effectively ending the Westfield threat. Four straight points from Zieja put Amherst up 74-67 with 5:13 remaining, and the sophomore's lay-up with 3:29 to go put Amherst back up by eight, 78-70. Behind Jaukovic, who finished with 30 points and 13 rebounds on 12 of 15 shooting, the Owls rallied one last time, but Amherst converted on six of its last seven free-throw attempts, including two clutch tallies from Kelly with 10.1 seconds remaining, holding on for the 80-75 victory.

For the Jeffs, Zieja led the way again with his third double-double, finishing with 14 rebounds to go along with his 19 points. On the season, the sophomore has led the Jeffs in rebounding in all five games, averaging 11.2 board per contest. Daoust finished with another solid all-around game, adding a season-best eight assists to his 13 points, Kelly posted 12 points, and Sexson finished with 10 points in 14 minutes of action, shooting five of seven from the field.

After Jaukovic, Slavin finished with 12 points for the Owls, and senior guard Kurt Huggins (Massapequa, NY) was the lone other Westfield player in double figures, finishing with 10 points. Westfield falls to 4-4 with the loss, while Amherst improves to 4-1. The Jeffs have only one more game - Tuesday night's tilt at Worcester State College - before winter break.
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