February 9, 2001
AMHERST, MA - Senior co-captain Leo Jones (Engelwood, NJ) used game-highs of 25 points, 11 rebounds, and seven assists to lead Wesleyan University to a 98-89 win over Amherst College in a NESCAC men's basketball matchup Friday night at LeFrak Gymnasium. In a game they never trailed, the visiting Cardinals shot a solid 57.9 percent (33-for-57) from the field, while holding the host Lord Jeffs to just 40.0 percent (16-for-40) shooting after the break.
Wesleyan slowly pulled away midway through the first half, opening up a 12-point lead, 29-17, on a three-pointer by sophomore guard Chris Bray (Montague, MA). However, the hosts would claw back into the game, and two free-throws by sophomore forward Steve Zieja (Hadley, MA) narrowed the gap to two, 46-44, heading into the locker room at halftime.
After the break, the Cardinals jumped out to a quick 11-point lead before Amherst answered with an 8-2 run, capped by a John Donovan (Colts Neck, NJ) three-pointer to bring the Jeffs to within five, 63-58. However, Wesleyan responded with a 15-4 run, taking advantage of a trio of turnovers by the Jeffs, to go up 78-62 with 4:36 remaining.
The visitors would lead 91-78 with 1:09 left in regulation before Amherst attempted one more comeback. Two three-pointers by first-year guard Adam Harper (Washington D.C.) and jumpers by Zieja and Suli Jenkins (Brooklyn, NY) brought the hosts to within five, 91-78, with 30 seconds remaining. However, the run would end as the Cardinals hit their final six free-throws, and a jumper by Amherst senior co-captain Erik Kelly (Staples, MN) went off the front of the rim as the clock expired.
Aside from Jones' stellar effort, first-year forward Kanem Johnson (New Haven, CT) added 18 points for Wesleyan, while Bray chipped in 16 and first-year Keala Mills (Lenox, MA) added 15. Zieja, a 52.8 percent shooter from the floor, led the Jeffs with 22 points on an uncharacteristic six of 16 performance from the field. Senior Amherst co-captain Brian Daoust (Dover, MA) added 19 points, while all Harper's 12 points came from behind the three-point arc.
With Amherst already snatching the Little III Championship with a pair of wins over Williams College and a 93-77 win at Wesleyan earlier in the season, Friday's matchup was strictly about both teams' place in the NESCAC standings. The loss dropped the Jeffs to 14-5 overall and 3-3 in conference play as they fell into fifth place in the NESCAC behind Trinity, Colby, Wesleyan, and Williams.
Amherst faces Connecticut College on Saturday in a key conference matchup at 3 p.m., while Wesleyan travels to Hartford, Conn. to face the league-leading Trinity Bantams.
Game Box Score and Play-by-Play