January 13, 2001
WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. - Senior Amherst College Tri-captain Brian Daoust (Dover, MA) poured in a game-high 27 points, including a 9-12 performance from the foul line, and sophomore Steve Zieja (Hadley, MA) added 18 points and nine rebounds to lead the visiting Lord Jeffs to a 73-64 victory at arch-rival Williams College on Saturday night, completing Amherst's first men's and women's doubleheader sweep at Chandler Gymnasium in the gym's storied history.
Daoust provided Amherst with most of its first half offense, igniting the Jeff offense after the Ephs surged to a 20-12 advantage at the 8:36-mark of the first half, connecting for 16 points in the opening period, including seven straight points as part of a 9-0 Amherst run that helped the Jeffs take a 28-24 lead on a thunderous dunk from sophomore Pat Fitzsimons (Durham, NC) at the 3:23-mark. Williams responded with a free throw from senior Dan Dickens (Washington, DC), but Daoust drilled a long three-pointer on the next possession, boosting the Jeffs to s 31-25 lead, which narrowed to 35-31 by the halftime buzzer.
The Ephs, with support from the huge crowd, opened the second half with three straight points, including a jumper from sophomore Tim Folan (Kensington, MD) to cut Amherst's lead to one at 35-34, but the Jeffs responded with a game-breaking 19-6 run, capped by seven consecutive points from senior Tri-captain Abe Sexson (Athens, Greece), whose lay-in at the 9:20-mark gave the Jeffs a 54-40 advantage.
From there, Williams would rally from the charity stripe, going to the line on six of their next eight possessions, and cutting the Amherst edge to eight, 60-52, with 2:28 to play. Daoust responded, however, with one of the bigger buckets of the game on Amherst's ensuing series, hitting a runner in the lane with the shot clock winding down that extended the Jeffs' lead back to 10 with 1:31 to play.
Down the stretch, the game turned into a free-throw shooting contest, as the two teams combined for 16 free-throw attempts in the final 58.5 seconds of play. The Jeffs were solid from the stripe, connecting on 11 of their 14 chances, including seven of their last eight, with Daoust, Zieja and senior Tri-captain Erik Kelly (Staples, MN) each connecting in the clutch. Amherst's solid free-throw shooting kept Williams from mounting a dramatic comeback, and the Jeffs held on for the 73-64 win over the 23rd-ranked team in the nation.
For Amherst, Daoust led the way with 27, adding six assists and four steals in 37 minutes of action. Along with Zieja, Fitzsimons had a solid game inside, finishing with eight points and a game-high 10 rebounds, as Amherst held a 37-36 advantage over the Ephs on the glass. Sophomore point guard Ryan Faulkner (Lebanon, NH), the NESCAC's second-leading assist man, had another solid game from the point, dishing out seven assists on the evening.
For Williams, sophomore center Drew DeMuth (Carlisle, PA) and senior guard Andrew Conley (Wakefield, MA) were the lone players in double figures, finishing with 12 and 11 points, respectively, as Amherst held the Ephs to their worst outside-shooting performance (2-16, 12.5 percent) of the season. Eph senior Manny Benjamin (Harare, Zimbabwe), in only his second game back from a pre-season knee injury, had a solid nine-point, nine-rebound night, but the Jeffs' interior defense contained the Williams post players throughout the evening, forcing Williams to rely on an outside game that was never there.
With the win, their seventh in a row after a 118-111 triple-overtime loss to Clark University in their second game of the season, the Jeffs improve to 8-1, and may well crack the national polls next week after knocking off the 23rd-ranked Ephs. The win is Amherst's fourth in its last five games against their arch-rivals, avenging a 62-59 loss in Chandler Gymnasium last year, and improving this year's senior class of Daoust, Kelly and Sexson's all-time record against Williams to 5-2. The win also capped an unprecedented doubleheader sweep for the Jeffs, after the women's squad knocked off the Ephs in a dramatic 68-63 overtime game in the opener, Amherst's first-ever sweep in Chandler Gymnasium, a facility that opened up in the mid-1980s.
The Jeffs, who host Williams in the rematch next Friday night at 7:30 p.m., must first travel to Little III foe Wesleyan University on Tuesday night in another bout that does not count towards NESCAC standings-only the second Wesleyan and Williams games figure in those-while the Ephs are also next in action on Tuesday night, when they host Hamilton College.
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