MEMPHIS, Tenn. – David George '17 netted a game-high 21 points to lead five players in double figures as the third-ranked Amherst College men's basketball team held off Rust College, 97-93, in Saturday afternoon's New Year Classic contest hosted by Rhodes College in Memphis, Tenn.
HOW IT HAPPENED
- Leading by 14 points with 2:20 to play in the game, Amherst fended off a late 9-0 run by Rust to seal its 97-93 victory over the Bearcats.
- Amherst shot a stellar 54.1% from the field as George went 7-of-10 from the floor, and 7-for-8 from the free throw line to highlight his 21-point effort. Jeff Racy '17 finished 7-for-8 from the field including 5-of-6 from three-point range en route to 19 points. George scored 14 of his 21 points in the first half, while 12 of Racy's 17 also came in the first 20 minutes of action.
- Jayde Dawson '18 was a catalyst for the Purple & White offense dishing out seven assists, and collecting a team-best seven rebounds, as he notched 15 points in the winning effort. Johnny McCarthy '18 (7-of-9 from the free throw line) added 11 points, while Connor Green '16 connected on a pair of treys and logged 10 points as all five Amherst starters finished in double figures.
- Reid Berman '17 was a spark off the bench as he handed out seven helpers, while forwards Jacob Nabatoff '17 (eight points, four rebounds), and Eric Conklin '17 (seven points, six rebounds) also made an impact in the win.
- Rust was led by the tandem of Ben Shannon and O'Darius Lowe who each contributed 18 points to lead the Bearcats, while Allen Potts (14 points), LaDarius Waits (13 points), and Curtis Stuckey (11 points) also finished with double-digit scoring totals. Lowe and Jimmy Henderson pulled in a game-best eight boards each in the losing effort.
FIRST HALF HIGHLIGHTS
- Racy got Amherst off to a fast start as he swished a three-pointer just 18 seconds into the contest to give the Purple & White an early 3-0 lead. Trailing 5-2, Rust responded when Lowe converted a three-point play, making a lay-up and a free throw at the 18:25 mark to even the game at 5-5, but a three-point play by George 11 seconds later at the other end of the floor put Amherst in the lead for good.
- The Purple & White led by as many as 14 points (41-27) following another lay-up and converted foul shot by George with 5:49 left to play in the first half.
- The Bearcats chipped away at the Amherst advantage, and with five seconds remaining in the stanza, Waits came up with a steal and made a lay-up to pull Rust to within five (51-46) at halftime.
SECOND HALF HIGHLIGHTS
- Amherst quickly pushed its lead back to double figures as Racy and Green each drained buckets from beyond-the-arc to highlight a 14-8 run over the first 4:10 of the second half.
- A lay-up by Berman following a dish from McCarthy ballooned the Purple & White's lead to 15 (80-65) with 10:01 to play in regulation.
- A 6-2 run by Rust allowed the Bearcats to narrow the gap to nine (82-73) following a basket underneath by Lowe at the 7:20 mark, but Amherst was able to maintain a comfortable edge, and extended its lead back to 14 (95-81) following a lay-up and free throw by Dawson with 2:20 on the clock.
- The Bearcats responded with a three-pointer by Waits, and Rust scored the next six points to cap a 9-0 run that brought Rust to within five at 95-90 with 50 seconds left in the game.
- Conklin then hit the front end of two foul shots, before Shannon struck for a trey as the Bearcats closed to within three (96-93) with eight ticks on the clock. However, Dawson was able to clinch the win for the Purple & White as he connected on the first of two shots from the charity stripe to lock up the thrilling, 97-93 win.
- Both teams return to New Year Classic action Sunday, January 3 as Rust will face UC-Santa Cruz at 1 p.m., while Amherst will take on host Rhodes at 3 p.m.