Amherst claimed a 42-34 advantage heading into the second half and led 51-38 following Jones’ second trifecta of the afternoon with just over two minutes played in the final period. But the Jeffs suffered a sudden loss of momentum-rimming out open shots they had previously been making-and the Bantams went on a 17-3 scoring spree over the next eight minutes to take a 55-54 lead with just under 10 minutes left in regulation.
Trinity first-year Robert Taylor connected on a mid-range jumper with 3:39 to play to put the Bantams up by five, their largest lead of the afternoon. But just as Amherst seemed to be losing its grip on the game, John Bedford ’06 and Harper connected on consecutive three-pointers to put the Jeffs back on top, 64-63. The Amherst lead would be short-lived, however, as Taylor scored on an offensive put-back and Tyler Rhoten made no mistake on his uncontested lay-up following an Amherst turnover.
Despite their second-half letdown, the Jeffs still had a legitimate chance to pull out a win, finding themselves in possession of the ball with seven seconds to play trailing by just two points. However, a last-second victory was not in the cards for the Jeffs as Donovan’s three-point attempt was blocked as the buzzer sounded.
Bedford led Amherst with 18 points and seven rebounds. Only five players pierced the scoring column against Trinity, which is unusual for a very balanced Amherst offense. Trinity’s Rhoten, the NESCAC’s third-leading scorer, improved upon his impressive 22.6 p.p.g average with a game-high, 28-point performance. Rookie Taylor had 17 points in a sterling effort coming off the bench.
“Trinity did not get to being ranked 10th in the country by luck. They are a very good team with several strong offensive weapons,” said Donovan. The loss moves Amherst behind Williams College and Trinity and into third place in the NESCAC with a 5-2 conference mark. The Jeffs now stand at 19-2 overall.
Even though Amherst’s two losses have come against two top-10 teams-and both in the NESCAC-the close nature of the two losses may have some wondering if the Jeffs, talented as they are, can win close games against tough competition.
“Given the similarities between our Williams loss and this loss, it doesn’t surprise me that people would start to question our ability to close out big games,” said Donovan. “Having said that, there is no doubt in my mind that this team is mentally tough enough to win tight games, and I think that we’ll have a few more opportunities to prove that before it’s all said and done.”
The past week started off quite nicely for the Jeffs as they snapped Colby-Sawyer College’s 32-game home winning streak, despite graciously staking their hosts to an 11-0 advantage. Donovan and Russell Lee ’05 paced the Jeffs with 18 points apiece during the comfortable 89-66 victory. This weekend, Amherst will close out its regular-season NESCAC slate with games at Connecticut College and Wesleyan University.