Jeffs Advance to NESCAC Championship Game with 61-46 Win Over Colby

February 23, 2001


HARTFORD, Conn.- Sophomore Amherst College center Pat Fitzsimons (Durham, NC) posted 11 points and 16 rebounds to lead the men's basketball team to a 61-46 win over the second-seeded Colby College White Mules in the semifinal round of the NESCAC Championship Tournament played at top-seeded Trinity College. Amherst, seeded fourth in the tourney, improves to 20-5 for the season and advances to the finals tomorrow at 7 p.m. There, they will face top-seeded Trinity College, 76-72 victors over sixth-seeded Connecticut College in Friday's nightcap. Colby falls to 17-9 and is eliminated from the tournament. The winner of the NESCAC Championship earns an automatic bid to the NCAA Division III Championship Tournament. 

The game got off to a slow start with neither team scoring a point for the opening 3:30, before Colby senior guard Jake Civiello (Bangor, ME) connected for his first of two three-pointers on the night. Colby went ahead, 5-0, on a reverse lay-up by senior forward Sam Clark (Woolwich, MA.), but the Lord Jeffs outscored the White Mules 16-2 over the next seven minutes to give Amherst a 16-7 lead with 8:41 remaining in the first half. 

Amherst, who forced a five-way tie atop the NESCAC with a 66-49 win over the Mules last Saturday in Maine, extended its lead to 30-19 at the half, shooting just 36 percent from the field but connecting on six out of 17 three-point attempts. The Lord Jeffs held Colby to just eight field goals and 31 percent field goal shooting for the half. Clark led all scorers after the first 20 minutes with 12 points. 

Amherst scored eight out of the first 12 points of the second half to take a 38-23 lead with 15 minutes left to play, paced by Fitzsimons, who scored six points during the Amherst run. Colby rallied to score seven unanswered points, as Clark and junior guard Damien Strahorn (Menlo Park, CA) each hit three-point shots, and cut the lead to eight points at 38-30. 

Strahorn connected on another three to bring Colby within four points at 39-35 with 9:39 to play, but Amherst senior tri-captain Brian Daoust (Dover, MA) hit two three-pointers and two lay-ups to highlight a 14-3 Amherst run that put the game out of reach. 

Daoust finished with 13 points and junior forward Steve Zieja (Hadley, MA) scored 12 points and grabbed six rebounds for the Lord Jeffs. Amherst freshman guard Adam Harper (Washington, DC) added 10 points off the bench, sinking all three of his shots from three-point range, and classmate Ryan Faulkner (Lebanon, NH) paced the Jeffs with six assists. 

Clark led all scorers with 20 points, but made just three out of 11 free throws, adding a team-high nine rebounds. No other White Mules scored in double figures, as Colby shot just 33.3 percent from the field and 28.6 percent from the foul line. 

With the win, their second over the Mules in six days, the Jeffs are now one game away from a return trip to the NCAA Tournament, after last year's trip to the NCAA Regional Semifinals. Standing in the way are the host Bantams, who are responsible for one of Amherst's five losses, a 78-74 Trinity win in Hartford on February 3. Trinity squeaked past Connecticut, 76-72, in Friday's nightcap to set up the rematch, which will tip-off Saturday night in Hartford at 7:00 p.m. Friday, February 23, 2001 at Trinity College, Hartford, Connecticut 

Game Box Score