February 10, 2001
AMHERST, MA - The Amherst College men's basketball team placed four players in double figures and snapped a two-game conference losing skid with an 86-68 win over visiting NESCAC rival Connecticut College on Saturday. First-year Amherst guard Adam Harper (Washington, DC) led the way off the bench with a career and game-high 21 points on eight of 11 shooting.
The Jeffs shot a scorching 54.8 percent (17-for-31) in the first half on the way to a 48-40 halftime advantage. After trading leads through the first 12 minutes, senior tri-captain Abe Sexson (Athens, Greece) nailed a nifty 10-footer to spark a 13-3 Amherst run, including six straight unanswered points by Harper on a pair of offensive tip-ins and two free throws.
Conn. College responded with a 9-3 run of its own, capped by a three-point play by junior guard Mizan Ayers (Bronx, NY), as the Camels cut the lead to 42-39 with 1:40 remaining. After a pair of buckets by Amherst reserve forward Pat Taverna (Whitesboro, NY) and two free throws from Ayers, the Jeffs held the ball for the last shot of the half. With the clock winding down, senior guard Erik Kelly (Staples, MN) fed Sexson with a perfect lob pass for an easy lay-up, giving Amherst an eight point lead at the break.
The Jeffs picked up right where they left off with an 11-2 run over the first five minutes of the second half, as sophomore forward Steve Zieja (Hadley, MA) drained a running one-hander to push the Amherst lead to 59-42 with 15:03 remaining.
However, foul trouble would plague the Jeffs as Zieja and starting guards Ryan Faulkner (Lebanon, NH) and Brian Daoust (Dover, MA) each committed a fourth foul and were forced to the bench by the 12 minute mark.
Conn. College junior forward Rich Futia (Greenwich, CT) took advantage of Zieja's absence in the low post with five of the Camel's next seven points, as the visitors cut the lead to 63-49 with 12:04 remaining. From there it was all Amherst as the Jeffs' bench-led by six transition points from Harper and scrappy defense by Kelly and Taverna-blew the game wide-open with an 18-3 run over the next six minutes.
The Jeffs were able to play keep-away down the stretch and iced the game from the free throw line, nailing seven of their eight attempts from the charity stripe over the final five minutes.
Zieja and Kelly joined Harper in double figures with 16 and 15 points, respectively, while sophomore center Pat Fitzsimons (Durham, NC) added 11 points and a game-high 12 rebounds.
Ayers led the way for Conn. College with 13 points, followed by sophomore guard Ali Rahman (Bronx, NY) and senior tri-captain Kareem Tatum (Worcester, MA) with 11 each.
The win improved Amherst's record to 15-5 overall and 4-3 in the NESCAC, while Conn. College fell to 15-6 on the season and 3-4 in league play. The Jeffs and Camels entered the game tied for third place in the conference standings, along with Bowdoin College and Tufts University. Amherst returns to action on Tuesday night at 7:00 against visiting non-league rival Brandeis University, before finishing its regular season slate with a pair of road conference matchups at Bowdoin and Colby next Friday and Saturday.
Game Box Score and Play-by-Play