NESCAC Quarterfinal: No. 1 Amherst 82, No. 8 Colby 72

NESCAC Quarterfinal: No. 1 Amherst 82, No. 8 Colby 72

Courtesy of Amherst Sports Information

– Fueled by a late second half run, the top-seeded Amherst College men's basketball team downed eighth-seeded Colby College, 82-72, in NESCAC Quarterfinal action at LeFrak Gymnasium.

Amherst advances to the semifinals with the win and will play Trinity on Saturday, March 1. They improved to 22-3 overall while dropping the Mules to 14-11 on the year and have now won five of six postseason meetings against their conference foe. Last year, the Jeffs defeated Colby 83-52 in the quarterfinal as well, but the Mules snapped Amherst's 25-game NESCAC regular season conference win streak earlier this year, 80-75.

Five Jeffs scored in double figures. Leading the way was Connor Green with a game-high 23 points on 9-of-17 shooting. Captains Tom Killian, David Kalema and Aaron Toomey scored 17, 14 and 12, respectively. Toomey also dished out a game-high five assists and pulled in seven rebounds. David George was a strong presence down-low, posting a double-double with 10 points and a career-high 15 rebounds while rejecting four shots.

The Mules were led by Luke Westman and Shane Rogers with 15 points and four rebounds each. Westman also dished out four assists and went 6-of-11 from the floor. Rogers was 6-of-10 from the field and 1-of-1 from behind-the-arc. Joining them in double figures was Connor O'Neil with 11 on 3-of-5 shooting from downtown. Chris Hudnut and Patrick Stewart pulled in 13 and 10 boards, respectively.

Amherst scored the first bucket of the game at the 18:35 mark on a lay-up from George. The Mules came back down and tied the game at 2-2 but a three-pointer fromToomey at 18:03 put the home team on top as they carried a lead from 18:03 to 3:16.

For the next 15 minutes, the game went back and forth and reached an eight-point margin, the largest of the half, following a three-point play from Green. However, the Mules slowly cut into the deficit and tied the game at the 3:16 mark with a lay-up from Rogers.

The closing minutes featured two more ties until Connor Gach hit one from downtown to give the Jeffs a three-point lead. On the next possession, George went to the line and hit two to increase the lead to five but a lay-up from Westman with two seconds remaining in the half gave Colby momentum entering the locker room despite trailing, 38-35.

The second half was the same story early on and remained tight the majority of the way. Five minutes into the period, O'Neil hit a three-pointer and knocked down another one on the next possession to give the Mules its first lead of the game, up 49-47 at the 14:49 mark.

Amherst regained an advantage following consecutive foul shots from Toomey at 11:42. Applying full court pressure on the inbounds, Kalema made a terrific play to interrupt the pass and knock it off a Mules player. Kalema followed up with a lay-up to put Amherst up four and put the momentum in the Jeffs favor.

Minutes later, Toomey converted on a three-point play to tie their largest lead of the game, up eight with 7:32 to go. It was all Amherst the rest of the way, grabbing a double-digit lead shortly after on another three-pointer from Gach as they pulled away with the 82-72 win.