March 10, 2006
AMHERST, MA - In one of the most memorable games in the history of Amherst College men's basketball, the Jeffs stole a 90-85 overtime thriller from familiar foe Tufts University in the NCAA Division III Tournament Round of 16 on Friday night. Amherst advances to host St. John Fisher, which topped Utica College 94-78 in the first game of the night, tomorrow in the National Quarterfinals at 7 p.m. Doors will open at 5:30 p.m. for a 7 p.m. tipoff.
Sophomore playmaker Andrew Olson (San Diego, CA) etched his name into Amherst history, sinking an off-balance three-pointer as regulation expired to force the extra session, where the Jeffs claimed their second straight overtime victory and third win this season over the Jumbos. Olson capped an amazing night of no-look passes, which consistently forced the standing-room-only crowd at LeFrak Gymnasium into frenzy, with "The Shot," finishing with 11 points and seven assists.
The momentum carried directly into overtime, where the Jeffs hit 10-of-13 charity tosses, while holding the Jumbos to just 22.2% (two-for-nine) from the floor to come away with the win. Amherst overcame a 52-37 rebounding disadvantage as Tufts turned 20 offensive boards into 25 second-chance points. Amherst tied a single-season school record with its 27th victory, while Tufts wrapped up its season with a school-record 23 wins of its own.
Amherst controlled the early going, holding a small advantage for the first 10 minutes, but the Jumbos kept it a dogfight as the lead changed hands nine times in the final half of the opening frame. Junior Dan Wheeler (Bloomington, MN) paced Amherst in the first half notching 10 points, four rebounds and three blocks, while junior David Shepherd (Grantham, NH) and sophomores Jake Weitzen (New York, NY) and Jeremy Black (Jamesville, NY) led a balanced Tufts' effort with eight, seven and six points, respectively, as Amherst clung to a narrow 35-34 edge at the half.
The lead bounced back-and-forth early in the second session, with neither team really able to establish dominance. Tufts managed to solidify control near the nine-minute mark, holding a slight lead down the stretch. The Jeffs continually battled to a tie score, but couldn't get over the hump, allowing the Jumbos to continually lurch back into the lead. Amherst seemed to gain momentum at the 3:45-mark as senior co-captain John Bedford (Ridgewood, NJ) hammered home an old-fashioned three-point play to cut it to one, 68-67, and fellow senior co-captain John Casnocha (San Francisco, CA) picked the pocket of junior Brian Kumf (Milford, MA) on the ensuing possession, but a trio of missed layups by the Jeffs allowed Tufts to hold on to the lead. After trading a few buckets, Tufts senior Dan Martin (Sandwich, MA) hit the tail-end of a pair at the free-throw line to put the Jumbos up four, 73-69, with just 26 ticks left on the clock. A speedy layup from Olson hacked it back to a two-point edge and a quick Amherst foul sent Weitzen to the line for a chance to stretch the advantage back to four. Weitzen missed the first of two free throws, leaving the door open for Olson's heroics.
Wheeler and sophomore Matt Goldsmith (Morristown, NJ) banged inside to grab the early overtime advantage for the Jeffs, and stellar free-throw shooting sealed the win. Bedford led all scorers with 24 points and five assists, while Wheeler was outstanding, finishing with 22 points, 10 boards and four blocks. Fellow junior Dan O'Shea (Lawrence, MA) knocked down seven-of-10 from the floor for 15 points, while Casnocha grabbed 13 rebounds and a trio of steals.
Kumf paced Tufts with 21 points and nine boards, while Martin chipped in a double-double, adding 11 points and 11 caroms. Weitzen tallied 17 points and seven rebounds and Shepherd finished with 13 points.
Both Amherst and St. John Fisher escaped their fates of a year ago as the pair were bounced out of the NCAA Sectional at Amherst. The Jeffs and Cardinals last faced off in the first round of the 2001 NCAA Tournament, where Amherst posted an 89-76 victory.
St. John Fisher vs. Utica Game Summary
AMHERST IN THE NCAA TOURNAMENT: Ninth appearance / 14-9 all-time (9-1 home, 5-8 road)
- 1993-94 (Qualified for the NCAA Tournament in its first year of eligibility… drew first-round bye… won at Colby in second round… beat the No. 1 team in the nation, Franklin & Marshall College, which entered the game with only one loss, in the Round of 16… Fell to eventual national champion Lebanon Valley in the national quarterfinals)
- 1996-97 (Beat visiting Colby, 83-60, in first round… fell at Williams, 86-63, in second round)
- 1999-00 (Beat visiting WNEC, 79-77, in first round… fell at Salem State, 81-75, in second round)
- 2000-01 (Beat visiting St. John Fisher, 89-76, in first round… fell at Clark, 89-76, in second round)
- 2001-02 (First-round bye… beat visiting Western Connecticut State, 82-77, in second round… fell at SUNY Brockport, 69-64, in Round of 16)
- 2002-03 (First-round bye… beat visiting Southern Vermont, 84-60, in second round… beat Rochester, 74-68, in Round of 16… fell at Sectional host Williams, 91-75, in National Quarterfinals)
- 2003-04 (First-round bye… beat visiting Plymouth State, 113-85, in second round… beat New Jersey City, 92-74, in Round of 16… beat Sectional host Franklin & Marshall, 82-70, in National Quarterfinals… fell to Williams, 86-81, in National Semifinals… fell to John Carroll, 96-85, in Championship consolation)
- 2004-05 (First-round bye… beat Springfield, 81-68, in second round… fell to Rochester, 69-62, in Round of 16)
- 2005-06 (First-round bye… beat Hamilton, 83-59, in second round… beat Tufts, 90-85 (OT), in Round of 16… will face St. John Fisher in National Quarterfinals…)