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Amherst Athletics | March 9, 2014

Jeffs overcome slow start to earn second-round win

AMHERST, Mass. -- Behind senior David Kalema’s game-high 21 points, seventh-ranked Amherst overcame a slow start, tripping up York (N.Y.) in an NCAA second round game at LeFrak Gymnasium 63-51.

Improving to 25-3 overall on the season, the Jeffs punched their ticket to Round of 16 for the third-consecutive year. Earning their first tournament win with a first-round victory against Rhode Island College on Thursday, the Cardinals wrapped up their 2013-14 campaign with a 22-8 record.

Connecting on seven of his 18 shots, Kalema finished just one point shy of matching a personal-best, while also pulling down a career-high eight rebounds. Despite shooting just 2-of-12 from the floor, Aaron Toomey still finished with 15 points, thanks to a perfect 11-of-11 showing from the charity stripe. Finding other ways to contribute, the NESCAC’s reigning two-time Player of the Year ripped down a career-high 12 boards, while dishing out four assists. Tom Killian posted his fourth double-double of the year with 10 points and 10 rebounds, while David George gave the Jeffs a strong defensive presence on the low block, finishing with 11 boards and five blocks.

Trailing 5-2 after the first five minutes, York pieced together a 12-3 run to build a six-point edge midway through the period. Getting the rally started with consecutive layups, Michael Woods scored six points during the stretch that had the Cardinals up 14-8 with 9:37 on the clock.

Still down six with just five minutes left in the half, Amherst scored nine of the game’s next 10, retaking the lead when Kalema converted a three-point play the old fashioned way inside of the three-minute mark. Hitting just 24.1 percent (7-of-29) of its shots and 21.4 percent (3-of-14) of its threes, the Jeffs headed into the locker room down 23-21.

Looking to turn things around following the intermission, Amherst opened up an 11-point lead thanks to an 18-5 run during the first 6:28 of the stanza. Kalema kick-started the rally with a 3-pointer before four consecutive Joseph Mussachia points put the Jeffs up 28-23. Woods got the Cardinals on the board with a jumper at 17:14, but Kalema came right back with another trey to stretch the lead to six.

A George layup coupled with a Killian bucket gave the home team its first double-digit edge, but Du’Quan Lawson found the range from long distance to trim the York deficit to seven. Killian answered with another basket before finding a cutting George for a two-handed slam that capped off the Jeff run at 13:32.

Chipping away, the visitors got the lead back down to four with less than seven and a half to go as Woods buried a triple to bookend a 13-6 run that cut it to 45-41. With the teams exchanging baskets during the next several minutes, the Cardinals found themselves down just three with 3:39 remaining in regulation.

Needing a bucket to stem the tide, the Jeffs kept a long possession alive with a pair of offensive rebounds before Mussachia ducked underneath with an up and under as the shot clock wound down to extend the margin to 54-49. With Woods missing a 3 on the other end, York was forced to foul down the stretch as Toomey iced the game with six free throws over the final 1:46.

Coming alive after the break, the Amherst offense shot 48.1 percent (13-of-27) in the second half as the Jeffs doubled their point total from the first 20 minutes. Holding the Cardinals to a season-low 32.3 percent (20-of-62) from the field, the Purple & White won the battle on the boards (51-34), while outscoring York 30-20 in the paint and 18-4 in second chance points.