HARTFORD, Conn. – A pair of free-throws with five seconds remaining proved to be decisive as Wesleyan (Conn.) handed No. 15 Amherst College men's basketball their third loss on the season in a 79-77 setback on Tuesday evening at the Silloway Gym.
Ahead of league play, Amherst drops to 9-3 overall while the Cardinals secure their sixth consecutive win and improve to 9-2.
In a game that featured three lead changes and five ties, Amherst went up 23-11 early following a 3-pointer from Josh Chery '20 at the 11:33 mark.
On the ensuing possession for the Cardinals, Gabe Millstein hit one from deep to snap the Mammoths' 10-0 stretch. Despite another run and a 3-pointer at the 4:02 mark from Grant Robinson '21 that put Amherst up 14 (36-22), the Cardinals crawled back and got within four with just under a minute remaining.
Fouled on a 3-point attempt, Garrett Day '21 sunk all his free-throws to place the Mammoths up seven heading into halftime (41-34). At the break, Robinson led all scorers with 11 points, adding three rebounds and two assists while Chery and Eric Sellew '20 accounted for nine of the Mammoths 17 first half boards.
In the opening five minutes, both teams were strong offensively before the Cardinals scored nine unanswered points. Jordan James evened the score at 50-50 before Wesleyan rang off another 9-0 run, but the Mammoths didn't back down.
Behind 62-53, Amherst closed the gap on a 15-3 run and took the lead off of a 3-pointer from Fru Che '21 (67-66). Trading buckets in the waning minutes of the game, Robinson cashed in a three from beyond the arc to tie the game with 29 seconds remaining. Fouled at the five second mark, Antone Walker netted two free-throws to secure the win for the home side.
Robinson scored 20 points on 5-of-8 shooting from deep. The McLean, Va. native also led all players in rebounds (8), assists (6), and steals (3), while also blocking a shot. Che dropped 19 points on 5-of-8 shooting from 3-point range and Sellew added 12 and seven boards.
Amherst finished the game shooting 48.3% from beyond the arc and scored 14 points off turnovers. The Mammoths also reeled in 31 rebounds, scored 20 points in the paint, and were 9-of-11 from the line (81.8%).
The Mammoths are right back at it as they play host to Middlebury College in their opening NESCAC matchup on Friday, Jan. 10th, with tip-off slated for 7 p.m. Wesleyan will also open league play on Friday when they battle Tufts at 7 p.m.