Amherst rolls past WPI
Lord Jeffs advance into NCAA Third Round
WORCESTER, Mass. -- Amherst senior co-captain Conor Meehan recorded totals of 20 points, 10 assists and six rebounds to help pace the Lord Jeffs to a 92-70 win this evening against host WPI in the second round of the NCAA Division III Men’s Basketball Tournament.
Amherst (24-3) will play Rhode Island College in Friday’s Round of 16 at a site to be determined. The Lord Jeffs, who are now 26-13 all-time in NCAA Tournament play, will make their ninth sectional appearance overall and the eighth in the past 10 years. The Engineers end their season at 23-6 in their eighth tournament berth.
For Amherst, junior Taylor Barrise and classmate David Waller posted totals of 18 and 17 points, respectively, while first-year Aaron Toomey chipped in with 15 points off the bench.
Sophomore Peter Kaasila also distinguished himself with a game-best 12 rebounds to go along with nine points and three blocks.
WPI senior Jeff Robinson led all scorers with 21 points and four helpers, while senior Kyle Nadeau added 14 points in 22 minutes of action. Junior Matt Carr finished with nine rebounds, six points and four blocks for the Crimson and Gray.
The Engineers trailed by four with 8:46 to play in the first half (26-22) before Amherst used an 18-1 run to take a commanding 44-23 edge four minutes later.
Following a layup by Meehan, the Engineers buckled down on defense and netted four consecutive points to trim the lead to 17, but Toomey would knock down a pair from the charity stripe for a 48-20 advantage at the intermission.
In the opening frame, the Lord Jeffs shrugged off a 0-for-3 stretch from beyond the arc to connect for nine of their next 13 shots from downtown. Using a strong dribble-penetration offense, Barrise hit five of his six treys in the contest in that run while Toomey and Meehan would each knock back a pair.
After Amherst scored the first four points of the second stanza for a 52-29 lead, the Crimson and Gray utilized strong full-court pressure to rally with a 17-4 surge and make it a 56-46 game with 15:04 left to play. Robinson and Etten combined for 11 of the Engineers’ 17 points during that stretch.
The Engineers tried to get back into the game with a jumper by Fernando Perez with 10:45 remaining and a layup by David Brown at the 9:25 mark (70-54), but that was as close as they would get the rest of the contest.
Amherst finished with a blistering 53.4 shooting percentage from the field (31-for-58), as nearly half of its offense came by way of the three-point arc (15-for-29). The Lord Jeffs also enjoyed a 44-35 edge on the glass and were credited with 21 assists on 31 made baskets.
The Engineers ended the evening shooting 32 percent (22-for-68) overall and 19-for-24 from the charity stripe (79.2 percent).
Saturday marked the second double-double of the weekend for Meehan, who is only 20 points shy of 1,000 for his career.
Middlebury and Williams also advanced on Saturday, as three of the remaining 16 teams hail from the NESCAC. The Ephs earned an 84-63 win against Becker after barely escaping Friday’s opening round in overtime, while the Panthers cruised to a 79-53 win over Western Connecticut State. Amherst and Williams could potentially meet next Saturday in the sectional finals with a trip to the Final Four on the line.