WILLIMANTIC, Conn. – The No. 3 Amherst College men's basketball team erased an 11-point deficit in the first half, but a strong second half effort by Eastern Connecticut State University allowed the Warriors to pull away to a 87-75 victory over the Purple & White in Tuesday evening's non-conference contest in Willimantic, Conn.
With the loss, Amherst moves to 9-2 on the season, while Eastern Conn. State improves to 8-5 overall. The Purple & White return to action Friday, Jan. 6 at NESCAC archrival Williams College in the conference opener at 7 p.m. in Williamstown, Mass.
Eastern Conn. State raced out to an early, 11-0 lead as Carlos Gonzalez hit a jumper on the game's first possession and then converted a three-point play before Tyrell Arnum added the next four points to help the Warriors stake the 11-point cushion. A layup underneath by Johnny McCarthy '18 at the 15:33 mark gave Amherst its first points of the game.
Trailing 15-5 with 12:51 remaining in the first half, Jacob Nabatoff '17 swished a three-pointer before Eric Conklin '17 powered in a layup to pull the Purple & White to within five at 15-10. At the 9:04 mark, Jayde Dawson '18 pulled Amherst to within two at 19-17, and following a missed three-pointer by Gonzalez, Dawson notched another layup to even the score at 19-19. An 8-2 run by Eastern Conn. State pushed the Warriors lead back to six at 27-21 following a triple by Hugh Lindo, before Dawson answered with a strike from beyond-the-arc of his own to set the score at 27-24 with 5:57 on the clock.
With 2:37 remaining in the first stanza, Jeff Racy '17 knocked down a three-pointer to tie the game at 29-29, and less than a minute later, Michael Riopel '18 completed a three-point play to give Amherst its first lead at 32-31. With 40 seconds left, Nabatoff delivered a pair of free throws to make it 37-35 in favor of the Purple & White and the visitors took that lead into the halftime break.
In the early stages of the second half, the Warriors used a 17-6 run to extend their advantage back to nine points at 55-43 following a trey by Kendall Marquez at the 14:23 mark. McCarthy responded with a triple of his own to bring Amherst's deficit to single digits (46-55), a run of eight straight points by Eastern Conn. State capped by a jumper by Tarchee Brown gave the hosts a 61-46 advantage with 11:03 to play in regulation.
With 9:21 left in the contest, Dawson hit the front end of two free throws to pull the Purple & White to within eight at 63-55, but the Warriors scored nine unanswered points to give Eastern Conn. State a 72-55 lead with 7:06 remaining in the game. With just over four minutes to play, Conklin netted a mid-range jumper to make it 77-66. Amherst then used a trey from Racy with 32 ticks on the clock make it 87-75, but that's as close as it could get as Eastern Conn. State held on for the 12-point win.
BY THE NUMBERS
- Dawson led all scorers with 26 points on 8-of-17 shooting including three triples and a 7-of-11 effort from the free throw line. Conklin added a collegiate career-high 19 points and 10 rebounds off the bench highlighted by 7-for-8 efficiency from the field and a 5-for-7 effort from the stripe.
- McCarthy added 12 points and six rebounds while Nabatoff provided seven points and four rebounds. David George '17 collected six rebounds, while Riopel finished with five points and five rebounds in the losing effort.
- Amherst shot 47.2% from the field, 30.8% from three-point range, and 68% from the free throw line.
- Gonzalez led Eastern Conn. State with 22 points on 7-of-11 shooting from the field with three treys, while Lindo was 10-for-13 from the charity stripe and totaled 21 points to go along with a game-best 14 rebounds. Brown added 17 points, while Arnum collected 14 points.
- The Warriors shot 44.1% from the field, 29.4% from downtown, and 75.9% from the free throw line, and held a commanding, 17-4 advantage in turnovers, notching 24 points off those Amherst miscues.