AMHERST, Mass. – Four different players scored in double figures for Babson as the Beavers staged a 78-70 upset of nationally-ranked Amherst at LeFrak Gymnasium on Thursday night.
With its fourth consecutive victory, Babson improved to 6-3 on the year, while the Lord Jeffs, ranked 10th in the country in the most recent D3hoops.com poll, lost for just the second time to drop to 6-2. The Beavers’ victory also snapped Amherst’s incredible 35-game home winning streak dating back to the 2009-10 season.
The difference in Thursday’s contest was each team’s performance from long range, as Babson hit 12 of its 22 three-point attempts (54.5 percent) while Amherst hit just 6-of-25 from beyond the arc. Junior Matt Palazini and sophomore John Wickey each hit four trifectas in the win, while junior Kenny Ross added three others and first-year Travis Sheldon hit one.
Palazini finished with a game-high 21 points while also grabbing five rebounds in the win, while Wickey recorded his fourth double-double of the season with 19 points and 11 boards. Ross dished out a game-high six assists to go along with his 16 points, and senior Russell Braithwaite tacked on 15 points and nine rebounds for the Beavers
Junior David Kalema paced Amherst for the third consecutive game with 15 points on 6-of-12 shooting, while first-year Connor Green finished with 13 points. Senior Allen Williamson added 11 points, senior Aaron Toomey scored 12 points with a career-high nine rebounds, and senior Peter Kaasila rounded out the group of Jeffs in double figures with 10 points on 5-of-8 shooting.
Down 4-0 early, the Beavers scored five unanswered, taking their first lead of the night on a Wickey triple. Trailing 8-7, Palazani hit a layup to put the visitors back on top before a Sheldon jumper stretched the margin to three.
Williamson answered with a trey on the Jeffs’ ensuing possession before a Willy Workman layup coupled with a Ben Pollack basket gave Amherst a 15-11 edge. Williamson kept things rolling with a jumper before Wickey ended a 9-0 Jeff run and a three-minute Babson scoring drought with a layup at 10:56.
Ross pulled the Beavers within one with a three with just over 10 minutes to play in the half before a Sheldon trey followed by a Ross jumper suddenly put Babson up 21-17. With Amherst down three after a Toomey bucket at 3:50, the Beavers reeled off an 8-3 spurt to go up 10 on a Palazini jumper.
Tipping in a Williamson three-pointer at the end of the half, Kaasila got the Jeffs off to a fast start in the second, hitting a jumper to cut the Amherst deficit to 37-31, but Ross came right back with a three to push the lead back up to nine. A steal and a fastbreak dunk by Williamson pulled the home team to within seven at 18:33.
A Kaasila steal and a Toomey outlet to Kalema led to another easy basket and a five-point game, but Palazini drained another from long distance before knocking down a jumper to make it 45-35. Amherst answered with a 10-3 run over the next two and a half minutes to trim the margin to just three. Kaasila got the rally started with a layup at 15:44, before a Pollack three-point play with just over 14 minutes remaining capped the stretch.
Up just two after a pair of Toomey free throws, Babson responded with a 17-3 run of its own to take control of the game and go up 65-49. Ahead by five at 8:37, Wickey hit the first of three-consecutive Beaver triples before Sheldon knocked down a jumper to stake the visitors to a 16-point lead.
Coming out of a timeout, Green drained a three-pointer ending a nearly four-minute dry spell without a field goal before Kalema hit 1-of-2 from the line to bring Amherst within 12. Three Toomey free throws in the waning moments of regulation made it 76-70, but it was too little too late, with Babson holding off the late Jeff charge.