December 12, 2000
WORCESTER, MA - Senior Tri-captain Erik Kelly (Staples, MN) scored a season-high 15 points, including a clutch three-pointer to put the Jeffs ahead for good with 6:23 remaining, as Amherst College overcame a 28-27 halftime deficit to edge host Worcester State 53-50 on Tuesday night. Amherst improved to 5-1 with the victory in its last outing before a 21-day layoff for Christmas break.
Kelly nailed the first of three trifectas right off the opening tip as the Jeffs began the game with a 9-2 run over the first four minutes. Worcester State clawed back and eventually knotted the score at 20 on a three-point play by senior guard Tom Espinosa (Putnam, CT) with just over five minutes before the break. The Jeffs and Lancers traded buckets for the rest of the half until junior forward Demarr Langford (Worcester, MA) hit a pair of free throws inside the final minute to give Worcester State a slim 28-27 halftime advantage.
Amherst forward Steve Zieja (Hadley, MA) scored the first five points of the second half on a three-pointer and a nifty turn-around jumper, but Worcester State responded with a 10-0 run, including four points each by Langford and senior forward Edward Allen (Lawrence, MA), as the Lancers took their largest lead of the game at 38-32 with 15:20 remaining.
Led by strong defensive play from first-year reserves Adam Harper (Washington, DC) and Tim Jones (Richmond, VA), the Jeffs methodically chipped away at the Lancer lead. Sophomore guard Ryan Faulkner (Lebanon, NH) converted a breakaway layup at the 9:20 mark to cap a 9-2 Amherst run as the Jeffs took the upper-hand for the first time in the second half, 43-41.
Not to be outdone, Worcester State jumped back in front with a three-pointer by rookie shooting guard Arthur Davis (Reading, VT). Freshman center Jacob Everett (Orange, MA) then hit the first of two free throws to give the Lancers a 45-43 lead with 6:52 remaining, setting the stage for Kelly's momentum-shifting three-pointer at the 6:23 mark that gave the Jeffs the lead for good down the stretch.
Down 53-50, Worcester State had a chance to tie the game in the waning moments, but sophomore guard Corey Carangelo (Waterbury, CT) back-rimmed a three-point attempt with seven seconds remaining and the Lancers were forced to foul. Zieja missed the front end of an ensuing one-on-one, but the rebound skipped away from Espinosa as time expired.
Aside from Kelly, senior guard Brian Daoust (Dover, MA) was the only other Amherst player in double figures with 11 points. Zieja, who has led the Jeffs in rebounding in all six games this season, continued his dominance on the glass with a team-high eight rebounds. Espinosa paced Worcester State with 16 points and nine boards in defeat, as the Lancers fell to 2-7 on the season.
The Jeffs return to action on Tuesday, Jan. 2 at 7 p.m. at Averett College in Danville, Virginia.
Full Game Box Score