HARTFORD, Conn. – The fifth-seeded Amherst College men's basketball team returns to the NESCAC Championship game for the fourth consecutive season following a 76-56 win over second-seeded Bowdoin College Saturday in semifinal action at Trinity College.
The Jeffs improve to 20-6 overall and are 8-1 in their last nine contests. They will face sixth-seeded Wesleyan University in the finals at 12 p.m. tomorrow in Hartford, Conn. Amherst and Wesleyan are the two lowest seeds to ever advance to the NESCAC Championship, the only lower team to advance was fourth-seeded Bowdoin in 2008. Following the Polar Bears loss Saturday, they drop to 18-8 and await their NCAA tournament fate when the selection show announces the 2015 bracket Monday, March 2 at 12:30 p.m.
Jayde Dawson '17 led Amherst with a career-high 21 points on 6-of-11 shooting. He also recorded three steals, two rebounds and two assists. Three others joined him in double-figures as Jeff Racy '17 added 16, Johnny McCarthy '18 scored 14 and David George '17 tacked on 13. McCarthy registered a double-double, adding a game-high 13 rebounds, and Reid Berman '17 dished out six assists to tie a game-high.
Three players scored in double-digits for Bowdoin, with Lucas Hausman leading the way. Hausman scored 21 points on 8-of-16 shooting, while John Swords and Bryan Hurley scored 14 and 12, respectively. Hurley also dished out six assists, while Neil Fuller added four. Swords posted a team-high seven rebounds and blocked three shots.
Both teams went back and forth early on and a three-pointer by McCarthy at the 14:24 mark gave the Jeffs an 11-7 lead. However, after roughly two minutes of scoreless play, Hurley netted a trey for Bowdoin to cut the deficit to one. Minutes later, following a McCarthy lay-up, a pair of free throws by Hausman and a basket by Swords gave Bowdoin its first lead since the opening bucket, 14-13.
The Polar Bears one-point lead with 10:20 to play before the break was short-lived as a jumper by Racy seconds later sparked an 8-0 Amherst run. The sophomore sharp-shooter scored the Jeffs' last 12 points of the half, including three three-pointers, to single-handedly lift Amherst to a 14-point lead at the break, 38-24.
In the second half, Amherst continued to extend its lead and a lay-up by George with 11:36 to play in regulation lifted the Jeffs to a 20-point advantage. They led by as much as 26 at the 4:57 mark following a 9-0 stretch that was capped off by a pair of free throws from Dawson as the Purple & White cruised to the decisive victory.
Amherst held a commanding 42-0 edge in bench points and turned the ball over just seven times. The squad shot 41.4% (24-58) from the field, 40.0% (10-25) from downtown and 75.0% (18-24) from the free throw line. Bowdoin shot 42.1% (24-57), and was just 21.4% (3-14) from three-point range and 62.5% (5-8) from the charity stripe. The Jeffs also held a 38-34 advantage in rebounding.