Men’s hoops falls to Amherst

Men’s basketball (20-3, 8-1 in the NESCAC) suffered a tough 65-48 loss to rival Amherst at home on Sunday. Entering the game with an impressive 20-2 record, the Ephs fell to the Jeffs for the second time this year, forfeiting a perfect conference mark and the Little Three title. After the men closed Amherst’s lead to seven at the half, the Jeffs charged back in the second period, showcasing an offensive clinic from which the Ephs did not recover.

The Ephs were forced to make changes to their lineup, with starting guard Daniel Wohl ’15 sidelined due to illness. Head Coach Mike Maker rotated Parker McClelland ’13 into the starting lineup at forward. In the first period, the Jeffs jumped to an early advantage, notching a six-point lead in the first three minutes. The Ephs charged back, however, with a score by Michael Mayer ’14 who then converted an and-one for a three-point play. With the score standing at 15-12, the Jeffs surged on offense, posting eight straight points for a double-digit lead. Sean Hoffmann ’13 finally broke Amherst’s momentum with a point from the line. Following an Eph timeout, co-captain James Klemm ’13 was fouled after a pass from Mayer and made both penalty shots to narrow the deficit to 23-15.

After a forced turnover from the Ephs’ defense, John Weinheimer ’14 charged to the net for two. After another turnover by the Ephs and a failed conversion, co-captain Nate Robertson ’13 was fouled on a rebound and scored two from the line, bringing the Ephs within six. Amherst responded with a three, but Williams stole the momentum back with a layup by Mayer that ended the half with Williams down 36-29.

After halftime, the Ephs and Jeffs traded possessions, with Weinheimer driving for a layup between two Amherst scores. The Ephs failed to convert on the ensuing possession, leading Jeff Aaron Toomey to deliver a punishing three. A score from Taylor Epley ’14 and a two-for-two performance at the line from Robertson put the Ephs within striking distance. Despite a commanding dunk from Amherst’s Allen Williamson off an assist from Toomey, the Ephs surged back with five points from Mayer, narrowing the score to 46-40 with 14 to play.

The Jeffs were unfazed, however, and took charge with a 13-0 run from which the Ephs would not recover. The men could not muster the momentum to make the game close in the final few minutes. Amherst secured a dominant 65-48 victory.

“You really have to hand it to Amherst for the way they prepared for Sunday’s game, and also commend their execution of their game plan,” Klemm said. “We were unable to do the same, which made a very big difference in the outcome of the game.”

Mayer and Robertson led the Ephs with 17 and 13 points, respectively. The men struggled to capitalize on offensive advantages, shooting only 30.4 percent from the floor.

The men were scheduled to play Trinity on Saturday, but due to storm conditions, the men played their final regular season game at home against Trinity yesterday. Results came in too late to report. The men will next look to the NESCAC Tournament, beginning this Saturday, where the winner will secure a berth in the Div. III NCAA Tournament. Williams is currently third in the NESCAC, behind Amherst and Middlebury.