No. 22 Amherst Posts First Road-Loss of the Season, 76-70 at Colby-Sawyer

February 1, 2001

NEW LONDON, NH - Colby-Sawyer sophomore forward Ethan Betts (Strong, ME) scored two of his game-high 28 points with 1:05 remaining to give the host Chargers a 70-68 lead they would never relinquish on the way to a 76-70 win over 22nd ranked Amherst College on Thursday. It was the Jeffs' first road loss of the season after nine straight victories away from the friendly confines of LeFrak Gymnasium. 

Amherst and Colby-Sawyer battled to a 39-39 tie at the break after a first half that featured 10 lead changes and 68.2 percent (15-for-22) shooting by the Chargers. Betts burst out of the gate on fire, scoring eight of Colby-Sawyer's first 11 points and shooting 7-for-8 for the half, including a driving lay-in at 16:57 to give the Chargers an early 11-7 lead. 

Amherst rebounded with a three-point play by sophomore center Pat Fitzsimons (Durham, NC) and a lay-up by point guard Ryan Faulkner (Lebanon, NH) to retake the lead 12-11 with 16:00 remaining. Senior Tri-captain Erik Kelly (Staples, MN) then drilled an NBA three-pointer to spark an 8-2 run at the 10:13 mark, giving the Jeffs their largest lead of the half, 23-16. 

Colby-Sawyer hung around with tenacious defense, forcing the Jeffs into 11 of their 13 turnovers in the first half, and jumped back in front 32-30 when senior guard Jim Statires (Manchester, NH) drilled his only field goal attempt of the game - a three-pointer - with the shot clock winding down at the 4:26 mark. 

The seesaw play continued with three more first-half lead changes. In the final two minutes, junior swingman Calen Paquette (Hooksett, NH) put the Chargers up 39-37 with his third trey of the half, before Amherst sophomore forward Steve Zieja (Hadley, MA) sent the game to the break deadlocked at 39 with a wing-jumper from just inside the three-point arc. 

After Betts opened the second half with a pair of free throws, Amherst either tied or led for the next 15 minutes despite shooting a paltry 2-for-16 from three-point range and 32.4 percent (11-for-34) overall from the floor after the break. Betts finally put the Chargers on top from the charity stripe, 64-63, with 4:15 remaining before Paquette extended the lead with a lay-up off an inbound pass on Colby-Sawyer's next possession. 

Not to be outdone, Zieja brought the Jeffs back within one with a tip-in off a missed lay-up by senior guard Brian Daoust (Dover, MA) and first-year guard Adam Harper (Washington, DC) tied the score 66-66 with 2:15 remaining, hitting the first of two bonus free throws. 

However, on the ensuing Colby-Sawyer possession, Statires was fouled on the perimeter by Faulkner and calmly sank a pair of free throws to put the Chargers up 68-66. The Jeffs had one more comeback in them as Zieja responded again with a backdoor lay-in to knot the score for the last time, 68-68, with 1:33 remaining. 

From there it was all Betts, who gave Colby-Sawyer the lead for good with a running one-hander, while the Chargers hit all six of their free-throws in the final minute to ice the upset victory. 

Aside from Betts and Paquette - who finished with 21 points in addition to Betts' 28 - no Colby-Sawyer player tallied more than six points on the evening. Meanwhile, Fitzsimons led three Jeffs in double figures with 16 points to go along with 14 rebounds and five blocks. Daoust and Zieja each added 12 points for Amherst, who fell to 13-3 with the loss. 

The Jeffs return to action this Saturday for a pivotal New England Small College Athletic Conference matchup at Trinity College at 3 p.m. Amherst, Trinity and Colby College are all tied atop the NESCAC standings with a trio of 3-1 conference marks.

Game Box Score