CLINTON, N.Y. - Connor Green '16 and David George '17 combined to score 54 points as the 18th-ranked Amherst College men's basketball team held on to defeat Hamilton College Friday night in its 2014-15 NESCAC opener, 93-86.
Amherst has won four straight as it improved to 9-2 overall and 1-0 in conference play. With the loss, the Continentals three-game winning streak comes to an end as they drop to 10-3 on the year and 0-1 in the NESCAC. The Jeffs have won seven straight games against Hamilton.
George made 9-of-10 shots from the floor and went 11-for-12 at the free-throw line for a game- and career-high 29 points. He also led all players with eight rebounds, while Green nailed five three-pointers and finished with 25 points. Johnny McCarthy '18 scored 13 of his 15 points in the first half, and Jayde Dawson '18 added 13. Reid Berman '17 handed out five assists off the bench.
For Hamilton, Joseph Lin '15 dished out a program-record 16 assists, dropped in 16 points and was credited with three steals. Lin's double-double was the second of his collegiate career. Peter Kazickas '15 paced the Continentals with 17 points, Joe Pucci '18 netted a season-high 16, and Ajani Santos '16 finished with 16 points and seven boards. Wes Wilbur '17 had nine points and three blocked shots off the bench. Hamilton committed just five turnovers.
There were seven ties and six lead changes in the opening 11 minutes of the first half. A three-pointer by McCarthy gave Amherst the lead for good at 28-25 with 8:42 left in the half.
The Continentals were still within four points at 36-32 after Pucci drained a jumper with 3:02 remaining before the break. The Jeffs scored the last eight points of the half for a 44-32 lead as the teams went to their locker rooms. McCarthy started the run with a layup, Dawson converted a three-point play and capped the spurt with a three-pointer with 32 seconds to go.
Amherst's lead grew to as many as 18 points in the second half and the Jeffs led by double digits until the final two minutes. Trailing 82-69 with 2:29 left, Hamilton went on a 9-1 run and pulled within five points at 83-78 with 1:03 remaining. Santos scored seven of those nine points on five free throws and a layup. Amherst held on for the win, however, with clutch free-throw shooting as they went 8-of-9 from the line in the final minute.
The Jeffs return to action tomorrow, Jan. 10 and will travel to archrival Williams for a 3 p.m. tip-off.