Second-Half Surge Lifts Men's Basketball to 69-65 NESCAC Win at Bowdoin

February 16, 2001


BRUNSWICK, Maine - Amherst College senior tri-captain Erik Kelly (Staples, MN) scored all of his season-high 20 points in the second half of play to rally the Jeffs from an 11-point halftime deficit to a 69-65 victory over host Bowdoin College in New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) men's basketball action on Friday night. Fellow tri-captain Brian Daoust (Dover, MA) added a game-high 23 points to help the Amherst (17-5, 5-3 NESCAC) effort. 

The two teams started out exchanging baskets and the game was tied at 15-15 with 13:09 left in the first half. Bowdoin (14-8, 3-5 NESCAC) proceeded to go on an 11-0 run over the next five minutes to take a 26-15 lead. Steve McKinnon (Pawtucket, RI) made a jumper to give the Polar Bears a 23-15 lead, and during the ensuing Amherst time-out, Lord Jeffs' Head Coach David Hixon '75 was slapped with a pair of technical fouls and ejected from the game. McKinnon made three of the four freebies to give Bowdoin the 11-point margin. 

The lead ballooned to 17 points (38-21) with 1:46 left in the half, but Amherst ripped off a 6-0 run to end the first half, capped by a buzzer-beating jumper by Daoust to cut the halftime margin to 38-27. Daoust netted 19 of his 23 points in the opening stanza, accounting for 70 percent of the Jeffs' first-half offense, including a two-of-four effort from downtown. 

Kelly, who has struggled throughout most of the 2000-01 season, opened the second half with a pair of three-pointers to spark a 10-0 run and cut the Polar Bear margin to 38-37. Amherst junior Steve Zieja (Hadley, MA) followed one of Kelly's five threes with one of his own to give the Jeffs a 46-43 lead, and the bulge would grow to 53-47 on a Kelly jumper with 13:01 left in the contest. 

Bowdoin answered by rattling off a 12-2 run of its own to take a 59-55 lead on a Scott Jamieson (Marshfield, MA) jumper with 8:15 left. The Polar Bears still held a 61-58 lead with 4:11 left, but Kelly buried another three-ball to tie the game and sophomore Amherst center Pat Fitzsimmons (Durham, NC) sunk a pair of free throws with 2:53 left to give Amherst a lead they would never lose. 

Zieja joined Kelly and Daoust in double-figures with 11 while also hauling in a team-high nine boards. McKinnon's 17 points paced Bowdoin while junior Greg Orlicz (Liverpool, NY) chipped in with 16 more. Senior co-captain Dave Baranowski (Amherst, NH) had a superb all-around game for the Polar Bears, scoring 15 points, grabbing eight boards, dishing out seven assists and blocking six shots. 

For Amherst, Fitszimons finished with eight points, eight rebounds and five blocked shots, while sophomore point guard Ryan Faulkner (Lebanon, NH) finished with a team-high five assists. For the game, the Jeffs finished a stellar nine-of-18 (50.0 percent) from downtown, keyed by Kelly's best performance in over a year. 

With the win, the Jeffs remain locked in a four-way tie for second place in the NESCAC, with only tomorrow's regular season finale at first-place Colby College left on the schedule. Colby can clinch the top seed-and a first-round bye-in next week's NESCAC tournament with a win, while the Jeffs can horribly complicate the seeding with a win of their own. Bowdoin, who falls to 3-5 in the conference, hosts Trinity College on Saturday, and needs a win to lock up a spot in the seven-team field.

Game Box Score and Play-by-Play