NESCAC Semifinal - No. 1 Amherst 80, No. 5 Trinity 62

NESCAC Semifinal - No. 1 Amherst 80, No. 5 Trinity 62

Courtesy of Amherst Sports Information

AMHERST, Mass. - Aaron Toomey scored 36 points to lead the top-seeded Amherst men's basketball team to an 80-62 win over fifth-seeded Trinity in NESCAC Semifinal action Saturday at LeFrak Gymnasium.

The 36 points from Toomey were three points shy of tying a NESCAC Championship record set by Keala Mills of Wesleyan in 2003. With the win, Amherst (23-3) advances to the finals tomorrow, March 2 at 12 p.m. and will face the winner of No. 2 Williams versus No. 3 Middlebury. The Bantams fall to 15-11 following the loss.

Toomey shot 8-of-16 from the field, 6-of-11 from behind-the-arc and a perfect 14-of-14 from the free throw line. He also dished out four assists and finished with six rebounds.  Joining him in double-figures was David Kalema, Tom Killian and Connor Green. Kalema and Killian both finished with 12 points each, while Kalema recorded a game-high five assists. David George was a force down low, tying a career-high with seven blocks.

The Bantams were led by George Papadeas with a team-high 23 points on 8-of-13 shooting and 7-of-8 from the charity stripe. Papadeas also pulled in a team-high nine boards and blocked two shots. Jaquann Starks was the only other Bantam in double-figures, scoring 12 points, while Hart Gliedman and Shay Ajayi posted nine and eight, respectively.

Both teams were terrific from the foul line, but Amherst shot significantly better from downtown. Trinity was 17-of-20 (85.0%) from the line while the Jeffs went 23-for-27 (85.2%) but 11-of-24 (45.8%) from three-point range. Trinity went 0-for-5 in the second half and finished 1-of-7 (14.3%).

Racing out to a fast start, Trinity built a six-point lead over the first three minutes, going up 10-4 on a pair of Ajayi free throws. Battling back, Amherst pieced together a 16-10 run over the next 5:04, tying the game at 20 on a Kalema triple.

Still knotted at 23-23, Alex Levine gave the home team its first lead of the game with a free throw at 8:39. Trinity responded with an 8-3 run to rebuild a five-point cushion, but the Jeffs scored nine of the contest's next 10 points, pulling ahead 35-32 on Toomey's fourth trey of the half.

With the game knotted at 36-36, Joseph Mussachia knocked down a jumper from the left elbow to put the home team back in front. The next time down the floor, Toomey drilled another from long distance, before Kalema picked Christopher Turnbull's pocket, drew a foul, and knocked down a pair from the charity stripe. With six seconds remaining until the break, Alexander Conaway hit a jumper as Trinity trailed 43-38 entering the locker room.

It was all Amherst in the second half as they set the tone early. Following consecutive lay-ups from Green and Killian within 1:14 of play, the Jeffs held a nine point lead. At the 17:07 mark, Killian connected on a three-pointer to give them their first double-digit lead of the game up 11, 50-39.

Both teams exchanged baskets for the next couple minutes until a 5-0 run from Amherst increased their lead to 16. From that point on it was all Purple & White as they cruised to the decisive 18-point win.