Tenth-Ranked Jeffs Blast Bowdoin, 86-72

January 27, 2006

AMHERST, MA – The 10th-ranked Amherst College men's basketball team blasted visiting NESCAC rival Bowdoin College on Friday night, 86-72. Junior Dan Wheeler (Bloomington, MN) tallied a team-high 19 points on a red-hot seven-of-nine shooting from the field and pulled down five rebounds as the Jeffs won their fifth straight, improving to 16-2 (3-1 NESCAC), while Bowdoin fell to 11-6 overall and 2-2 in conference play.

Both squads shot with pin-point accuracy as the Jeffs connected on 55.0% (33-for-60) of their attempts from the floor, while the Polar Bears netted 52.6% (30-for-57) of their tries. However, Amherst outrebounded Bowdoin, 33-27, and coughed the ball up six fewer times, 10-16, to solidify their advantage and win the shooting contest.

The Jeffs coasted out to a 9-0 edge, capitalizing on a pair of early Polar Bear turnovers and a trio of misses from outside. The lead crept out to 13, 24-11, at the 11:31-mark on a Wheeler trifecta, and Amherst then began to run away with it. Back-to-back layups from junior Tim McLaughlin (Chatham, NJ) and senior co-captain John Bedford (Ridgewood, NJ), quickly made it a 17-point advantage, but the noise would get louder as sophomore playmaker Andrew Olson (San Diego, CA) lifted a pretty alley-oop to classmate Adolphe Coulibaly (Abidjan, Ivory Coast) for a baseline jam, and McLaughlin stepped in front of a Bowdoin pass and slammed it home for the 32-13 edge.

Bowdoin tried to control the tempo and hinder the Jeff onslaught, but it was to no avail as the lead would grow to as many as 23, 42-19, in the first half. The Polar Bears finally got some traction and consecutive threes from senior Kyle Petrie (Iowa City, IA) and sophomore Andrew Hippert (Spencer, MA) stopped the bleeding, but Amherst would carry a 47-29 advantage into the break. 

The Polar Bears came out of the locker room smoking, answering a Bedford three-ball with nine straight points to pull within 12 after the first 2:29 of the second half. However, the Jeffs got it together and extended the lead back out near 20 on the strength of a pair of threes from Wheeler. Despite solid play and accurate shooting from Bowdoin, the gap proved too wide and Amherst held on for the victory.

Joining Wheeler in double-figures were Bedford and fellow co-captain John Casnocha (San Francisco, CA) with 15 and 13, respectively. Bedford filled out the rest of his box score, tallying five boards, three assists and three steals, while Olson had a great floor game dropping seven points and eight dimes. Junior center Dan O'Shea (Lawrence, MA) finished with eight points and a team-high six rebounds.

Petrie had a great game for Bowdoin, posting a game-high 21 points and five assists. Junior Kevin Bradley (Seekonk, MA) notched 13 points and four boards and Hippert finished with 10 points.

Amherst returns to action Friday at 7 p.m. against visiting NESCAC foe Bowdoin College.