By Brian Willwerth
MEDFORD, MA – This was a matchup between two of the top teams in the NESCAC who came in having won a combined 11 games in a row between them. The game played out at the high level you’d expect from two such teams.
In a game that featured non-stop action from the start, Amherst College defeated Tufts University on Saturday, 74-65. With the win, the Lord Jeffs improved to 8-0 in the conference, (20-2 overall) and clinched a home quarterfinal game in the upcoming NESCAC championship. The Jumbos fell to 6-3, (16-6 overall.)
The first half was back-and-forth the entire way, with neither team being able to open up much of a lead. The action was fast and furious. There were eight ties and eight lead changes in the first 20 minutes alone.
The Jumbos shot 51% from the field, compared to 45% for the Lord Jeffs. The home team led by one at the intermission.
“I thought the great thing was that we were only one down at halftime,” said Amherst head coach David Hixon. “I said ‘guys, we did this, this and this…and we’re only down one. Let’s go.’”
After the break, Amherst went on an 8-2 run to open up a small lead, and then turned up the defensive intensity, as Tufts was unable to retake the lead the rest of the way.
Each team had four players in double-figures, and leading the way for the Lord Jeffs was Aaron Toomey, (18 points), while David Waller added 15. The pair combined to go 5-12 from behind the arc, while Willy Workman and Allen Williamson scored 10 apiece.
“We like to set (Toomey) free and move the ball around himself,” said Hixon. “Offensively, we started to sort-of let this kid loose a little bit, and let him start to do some things and make everybody better when he couldn’t get something himself.”
The Jumbos, playing before a full house at Cousens Gymnasium, were led by Ben Ferris’ 16 points. C.J. Moss had 12, and Alex Orchowski and Scott Anderson added 11 and 10, respectively.
The Jumbos were hoping for another big win, one night after beating Trinity at the buzzer.
“We missed some shots, and they were a little bit more poised than we were,” said Tufts head coach Bob Sheldon, who said his team was ready for the big matchup after Friday night’s dramatics. “To be honest, they were a little tougher than us.”