Jeffs Advance to NCAA Round of 16 With 83-59 Win Over Hamilton

March 4, 2006

AMHERST, MA - Amherst College advanced to the NCAA Division III Men's Basketball Tournament Round of 16 for the fifth straight year with an 83-59 victory over visiting Hamilton College on Saturday night. The Jeffs will face familiar foe Tufts University, who moved on with a 68-65 win at Cortland State University, next Saturday at one of four NCAA Sectional sites, which will be announced tomorrow (Sunday).

Senior co-captain John Bedford (Ridgewood, NJ) gave a spectacular performance, dropping 30 points on the Continentals on scorching 11-for-16 shooting, while fellow senior co-captain John Casnocha (San Francisco, CA) canned five trifectas en route to 16 points and junior Dan Wheeler (Bloomington, MN) added 16 as well. Amherst shot just over 50% (29-for-57) from the field, assisting on 18 buckets, led by sophomore point guard Andrew Olson's (San Diego, CA) game-high five dimes. The Jeffs improved to 26-2 with the win, extending their win streak to 16 games and pulling within one victory of the school's all-time record. Bedford, Casnocha and fellow seniors Keith Zalaski (Simsbury, CT) and Ray Corrigan (Queens, NY) extend their Amherst-record for wins by a senior class to 103, and Bedford vaulted his way to fifth on the school's all-time leading scorers list, surpassing Robb Caseria '82 with his 1,455th career point.

Hamilton wraps up its season at 23-5, despite dominating the offensive glass with 24 offensive boards, including eight by senior Staunton Peck (Winnetka, IL). Junior Tsakane Ngobeni (Soweto, South Africa) and senior Tim Welchons (New Hartford, NY) did the majority of the damage, notching 21 and 16 points, respectively, but a dismal outside shooting performance (two-for-17 from three) sealed the Continentals' fate.

Both squads displayed jitters early, missing a combined five shots in two minutes of scoreless basketball to open the game. Bedford ended the drought with a three-ball and the Jeffs followed suit, building an early 10-4 lead. Hamilton never really got the engine running in the first half as they didn't reach double digits until the 9:30-mark and suffered through over four minutes without a bucket, allowing Amherst to mount a 10-point advantage. Junior Nick Jones (Washington, DC) tried to rally the troops, hammering home a put-back dunk to end the scoring famine, but the Jeffs limited the Continentals to just 25.8% (eight-for-31) shooting and forced nine of their 13 turnovers in the opening frame to take a 37-23 edge into the half.

Amherst kept the heat on in the second session, steadily increasing its lead over the first eight minutes and hitting the 20-point mark, 56-36, with an old-fashioned three-point play by sophomore Matt Goldsmith (Morristown, NJ). Hamilton would pull within 19 with 6:21 left to play, but that was as close it would get the rest of the way. Bedford was seven-for-10 after the break, capping his showcase with a three from the right corner off a baseline feed from Casnocha.

The other Round of 16 matchup in the Eastern Sectional will be between St. John Fisher and Utica College. St. John Fisher advanced with a 71-50 victory over visiting Norwich University, while Utica topped second-round host WPI, 76-58. This will be the fourth meeting of the year between the two schools, which both hail from the Empire 8 Conference.

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AMHERST IN THE NCAA TOURNAMENT: Ninth appearance / 13-9 all-time (8-1 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… will face Tufts in Round of 16…)