Jeffs Topple Brandeis, 79-63

February 13, 2001

AMHERST, MA - Senior tri-captain Erik Kelly (Staples, MN) poured in a team-high 13 points with four steals and four assists to lead the Amherst College men's basketball team to a 79-63 non-league victory over visiting Brandeis University on Tuesday night. The Jeffs improved to 16-5 with the win heading into a pair of key conference matchups at Bowdoin and Colby Colleges on Friday and Saturday. 

With its leading scorer and best player Rashad Williams (Redwood City, CA) out with a groin injury, Brandeis came into the game working on a four-game losing streak and things only got worse. Amherst scored 23 points off 13 turnovers on the way to a 38-28 halftime lead, keyed by a pair of steals each from Kelly and senior guard Brian Daoust (Dover, MA). A poor showing from the free throw line didn't help either as the Judges shot just 50 percent (seven-for-14) from the charity stripe before the break. 

After trading buckets for the first 4:29, sophomore forward Steve Zieja (Hadley, MA) scored six unanswered points on a turnaround jumper, lay-up and two free throws to spark an 18-5 Amherst run and a 25-12 lead at the 9:54 mark. 

Brandeis responded when freshman guard Greg Kristof (Medfield, MA) hit a pair of driving lay-ups, followed by a three-pointer from classmate Ben Bosanac (Rancho Sante Fe, CA), to cut the deficit to 25-19 with 8:07 remaining. 

The Jeffs struck back with 13 of the game's next 17 points, capped by a jumper from the right wing by Zieja to give Amherst its largest lead of the half, 38-23, at the 1:46 mark. 

The Judges were able to regroup and creep to within 10 points at the break, however, after Brandeis freshmen Bryan Lambert (Auburn, ME) and Tim Deihl (Cumberland, ME) combined to score the last five points of the first half on a jumper and three free throws. 

Brandeis continued its run after the intermission as junior guard Antonio Williams (Inglewood, CA) came out of the locker room firing with seven of his 15 total points over the first four minutes to pull the Judges within five points, 41-37. 

Amherst then put the game out of reach with a back-breaking 17-4 run that included all 10 of sophomore center Pat Fitzsimons's (Durham, NC) points. The Jeffs led by as many as 17 down the stretch before emptying their bench in the waning minutes. 

Zieja joined Kelly and Fitzsimons in double figures for Amherst with 11 points, to go along with a game-high nine rebounds. Freshman guard Adam Harper (Washington, DC) added nine points on three-of-six shooting off the bench, while sophomore guard Ryan Faulkner (Lebanon, NH) paced the Amherst attack with a game high seven assists. Meanwhile, Lambert poured in a game-high 16 points for the Judges, who fell to 4-17 with the loss. 

With a 4-3 conference record, Amherst is tied for third place in the NESCAC standings with Wesleyan University. Meanwhile, Colby and Trinity College remain tied atop the NESCAC with matching 5-2 conference marks with Williams College in second place at 5-3. Amherst finishes its regular-season slate with a pair of road conference matchups at Bowdoin (13-7/3-4) and Colby (15-7/5-2) on Friday and Saturday.

Game Box Score and Play-by-Play