No. 3 Amherst men win thriller over Bobcats, 77-76
|Bryan Wholey ’08 became the 28th member of the Bates men’s 1,000-point club.|
AMHERST, Mass. — Bryan Wholey’s go-ahead jumper with 5.7 seconds left to play was offset by Brian Baskauskas’s game-winning shot with 2.1 seconds left, as the third-ranked Amherst College men’s basketball team remained undefeated in NESCAC play on Saturday afternoon with a 77-76 win over visiting Bates College at LeFrak Gymnasium.
The Lord Jeffs improved to 13-2 (2-0 NESCAC) with the win, while Bates falls to 8-5 (0-2) on the year.
Wholey (Marshfield, Mass.) became the 28th Bates man to score 1,000 points in his career. Needing eight to reach the plateau, the senior guard scored 17 to go with a game-high seven assists.
Amherst started the game with an 8-2 run sparked by a pair of three-point plays from seniors Fletcher Walters and Kevin Hopkins. In the early going, Bates seemed to have no answer to a huge starting front line from the Lord Jeffs that grabbed three offensive boards to just a single defensive rebound for the Bobcats.
At the 13:16 mark of the first half, Walters picked off a pass and went the distance to double-up Bates 16-8 by tipping home his own miss on the break. The 6-foot-7 swingman continued to take advantage of Bobcat defenders and scored on the next possession to bring his total to nine points.
Bates finally ended a 10-0 run from the Lord Jeffs on a jumper from junior Ben Thayer (Gorham, Maine), cutting the lead to 22-10. Amherst responded with more strong inside play from senior Brandon Jones, who finished a tough three-point play on a jumper in the lane.
With just 8:00 to play in the half, Amherst increased its lead to 29-16 on a pair of free throws from senior captain Andrew Olson. After a nice lay-in from Bates senior Bryan Wholey (Marshfield, Mass.), sophomore Steve Wheeler got into the mix with a three-pointer.
But Bates began to take chunks out of the Amherst lead with a slew of threes. Senior Pat Halloran (Plymouth, N.H.) nailed two, sandwiched around another three by first-year Brian Ellis (Braintree, Mass.) to cut the lead to six (39-33), and a pair of free throws by sophomore Chris Wilson (Brewer, Maine) brought the Bobcats within four (39-35).
In the last minutes of the half, Bates continued to close the gap. Wholey reached the 1,000-point mark with a pair of free throws, and a jumper by Ellis made it 41-39 with 1:20 left in the half. But with 40 seconds remaining junior Glenn Wong found classmate Brian Baskauskas cutting to the hoop for a reverse lay-up.
Ellis led all scorers with 17 first-half points for Bates, while Olson had 11 points to pace the Lord Jeffs. Walters chipped in with 9 points in just 11 minutes of action in the half due to foul trouble.
After Bates scored the first bucket of the second half, Amherst went on a 7-0 run to extend to a 50-41 lead with 17:52 to play. The Bobcats responded with a 5-0 spurt of their own, until a Baskauskas drive stopped the run.
Walters had a five-point possession when he hit a three, and a Bates player was whistled for an off-ball foul during the shot. Amherst retained the ball, and Walters quickly drove to the hoop for another score. Wholey answered with a three from the top of the key to close the gap to 57-52 with 13 minutes to play.
After Bates cut the lead to two points on a three from junior Scott Place (Bridgewater, Mass.), Baskauskas responded with a deep ball of his own, forcing a Bobcat timeout with 11:46. Walters went 4-for-4 from the line on two straight possessions to keep Amherst ahead despite pressure from Bates.
Walters scored seven consecutive points for Amherst, bringing his game total to 21 with over seven minutes to play. A trio of offensive fouls for Amherst on consecutive trips down the floor let Bates close the gap to 69-66, with just four minutes remaining.
Wholey tied the game at 69-69 with 3:15 to play with a triple from the top of the key, and then hit one-of-two foul shots after a technical foul on Amherst. The Jeffs kept possession after the free throws, and looked to Goldsmith for a beautiful jumper on the baseline.
With 2:30 to play, LeFrak Gymnasium came alive as the two sides traded buckets and the lead. Olson gave Amherst a 73-72 lead on a jumper from the elbow then grabbed a defensive rebound on the next trip down court. With 1:06 to play, Baskauskas was fouled going away from the hoop and awarded two shots as Amherst was in the double bonus.
He knocked down both free throws to put the Jeffs up 75-72. Halloran responded with a tough short-range jumper to close the gap to one with less than a minute to play.
After Olson missed a three, the rebound caromed off an Amherst foot and out of bounds. Bates called a timeout down 75-74 with 16.2 showing on the clock. Not a single fan in the building stayed in their seat as Bates looked for the go-ahead bucket. Wholey hit a pull-up jumper to take a 76-75 lead. Olson brought the ball up court and called a timeout with 5.7 remaining.
Amherst set their play of choice, took a look at the Bates defense and called another timeout. Goldsmith passed the ball in to Baskauskas coming off a double screen on the baseline. Baskauskas took one pump fake, a dribble to the right, pulled up and hit the go-ahead basket with 2.1 seconds to play. Bates quickly passed the ball in, but had it knocked away into traffic while time ticked away on an Amherst 77-76 win.
Walters finished with a game-high 21 points and 6 rebounds, while Baskauskas had 16 and Olson score 13. Bates was paced by Wholey and Ellis, who each finished with 17 points. Halloran added 16, hitting 6 of 7 shots including all three of his shots behind the arc.
Bates will next play a non-league game on Thursday, Jan. 24 at UMass-Boston.