February 11, 2006
AMHERST, MA – The ninth-ranked Amherst College men's basketball team won its second straight regular season NESCAC crown on Saturday afternoon, stomping visiting conference foe Tufts University, 99-70. With the win, the Jeffs earn the No. 1 seed in the NESCAC Postseason Championship Tournament and wrap up their regular-season slate at 22-2 overall and 8-1 in conference play.
Amherst took the game wire-to-wire, never trailing in the contest and displaying impressive dominance throughout. Tufts managed to keep it somewhat close in the opening four minutes, but a three-pointer from Amherst senior co-captain John Bedford (Ridgewood, NJ) sparked an 11-0 run over the next minute and a half to gain a 19-7 advantage and permanent control of the game.
The Jeffs' offensive onslaught was relentless, knocking down almost 60% of their shots for the game, and answering each Tufts score with two or three of their own. The lead grew as high as 20, 33-13, on a Bedford layup at the 9:02-mark , but the Jumbos managed a small run in the final seconds of the half and cut the deficit to 16, 52-36, at the break.
Any hope the Jumbos had in the second half was short-lived as Amherst opened with an 11-2 run and the rout was on. Another Bedford three-ball made it a 30-point Jeff advantage, 74-45 at the 12:25-mark, and the Amherst reserves maintained the vast gap down the stretch with a series of great plays, including a slashing layup from senior Keith Zalaski (Simsbury, CT), a deep three from sophomore Fletcher Walters (Ann Arbor, MI) and an acrobatic, alley-oop layup by rookie Glenn Wong (Leverett, MA).
Bedford led all scorers with a season-high 29 points on just nine-of-13 from the field. Junior Dan Wheeler (Bloomington, MN) capped his red-hot week with another outstanding performance, pouring in 19 points, while sophomore Andrew Olson (San Diego, CA) chipped in eight points and eight assists.
Senior Dan Martin (Sandwich, MA) paced the Jumbos with 18 points and four rebounds, while sophomore Jeremy Black (Jamesville, NY) added 13 and classmate Ryan O'Keefe (Everett, MA) scored 10 points.
This marks the third regular season conference championship for the Jeffs. They open tournament play next Saturday, February 18, as they host eighth-seeded Connecticut College at 3 p.m.
NESCAC Postseason Tournament Seedings
Quarterfinals – Saturday, February 18 at higher seeds (3:00 p.m. unless otherwise noted)
No. 8 Connecticut College at No. 1 Amherst
No. 7 Colby at No. 2 Trinity
No. 6 Williams at No. 3 Tufts
No. 5 Bowdoin at No. 4 Bates (4:00 p.m.)
Semifinals – Saturday, February 25 at highest remaining seed (2:00 p.m./4:00 p.m.)
Highest remaining seed vs. Lowest remaining seed
Remaining quarterfinal winners
Championship – Sunday, February 26 at 12:00 p.m.