February 7, 2006
NEWTON, MA – The ninth-ranked Amherst College men's basketball team reached the 20-victory plateau for the sixth straight season on Tuesday night, pounding non-conference host Lasell College, 99-76. Amherst junior Dan Wheeler (Bloomington, MN) led the way, cashing in a career-high 24 points on scorching eight-for-10 shooting, including an impeccable five-for-seven clip from behind the arc. The Jeffs improve to 20-2, while Lasell dropped to 10-10.
The Lasers battled early as the game saw six lead changes in the first three minutes of play, but an unassisted jumper from Amherst senior co-captain John Casnocha (San Francisco, CA) gave the Jeffs a narrow 7-6 edge and they would never trail again. The bucket was the second of eight straight made shots for the Jeffs, including a pair of treys from Wheeler and a three-ball from Casnocha to give them a 22-12 edge after 6:16 of play. Five straight points from Lasell first-year Brad Caravoulias cut the lead in half, but the Jeffs posted consecutive runs of 9-0 and 15-4, stretching their advantage to 20, 45-25, with just over six minutes left in the frame. Wheeler finished the half six-for-seven from the field and four-of-five from three-point land for 16 points at the break.
Lasell pulled within single digits in the opening 1:30 of the second session on a trifecta from senior Michael Unwin, but another Amherst flurry ran the lead back to 20, 68-48, and the Jeffs managed to maintain a dominant edge down the stretch, while digging deep into their bench.
Amherst senior co-captain John Bedford (Ridgewood, NJ) posted his eighth consecutive game in double figures with 15 points and a trio of steals. Junior Dan O'Shea fell just shy of a double-double, notching nine points and eight rebounds, while Casnocha added eight points and four boards and sophomore Andrew Olson (San Diego, CA) tallied eight points, five assists and three steals. Junior Tim McLaughlin (Chatham, NJ) and sophomore Kevin Hopkins (Saratoga Springs, NY) also posted eight points apiece, while McLaughlin pilfered a trio of steals as well.
Sophomore Jaime Crawford led the Lasers with 21 points and four assists, while senior Dan Schweitzer chipped in 13 points, five boards and five assists and first-year Jose Guitian added 10 points on a perfect four-for-four shooting performance.
Amherst returns to action for its final weekend of regular season play on Friday at 7 p.m. as they host NESCAC rival Bates College. Having nearly clinched a first-round home game in the NESCAC Postseason Tournament, the Jeffs are currently tied with the Bobcats and Trinity College for the top spot in the conference. Amherst needs a weekend sweep and a Trinity loss to clinch the No. 1 seed in the tournament.