Men’s Basketball Opens Season With Nail-biter Victory

After posting a 15-9 record last season, the Amherst men’s basketball team returns hungry for an improved season. They opened strong with a victory in game one.

Men’s Basketball Opens Season With Nail-biter Victory
The men's basketball team opened the season strong with a close victory against Albertus Magnus College. Photo courtesy of Clarus Studios. 

The Amherst men’s basketball team, returning after a successful 2021-2022 season, emerged victorious against Albertus Magnus College in a close game on Saturday, Nov. 12. With the win, the Mammoths started their 2022-2023 campaign off strong as they look to make a big jump from the previous year. After their loss to Williams in a gripping NESCAC quarterfinals match, which put an end to their NESCAC tournament run, the Mammoths are looking to improve on last year’s finish by taking over the tournament and concluding the season with a NESCAC championship.

Their journey will consist of many challenges, one of which is filling the void left by four capable and impactful seniors. This includes Garrett Day ’22 who was named to the All-NESCAC Second Team, as well as the All-Region I Third Team. However, the team is confident that their passion, hard work, and excitement for the upcoming season will allow them to dominate on the court. “If there’s one word I would use to describe the team, I’d say ‘fire,’” said senior center Beluolisah Oranye ’23, “If you come to see us, we’ll just be playing our hearts out to the best of our ability.”

“We didn’t do as well as we wanted to, but I think that that really propels us this year — we’re really motivated to do better and have a better season,” added team captain Mohammed Alausa ’24. “I think overall all the guys are excited. Personally, missing my freshman year due to Covid, I’m elated to get back on the court with the guys.”

The team’s strategy to bet on teamwork and dedication seemed to pay off during their game against the Albertus Magnus Falcons. Both teams fought for control of the game in the first half, with neither team able to secure a solid lead over the other. With  Will Scherer ’25 controlling the boards defensively, and Bobby Sommers ’25, Mike Schretter ’23, and first-year Charlie Randall ’26 scoring on the offensive end, the Mammoths were able to end the first half  with a tenuous one-point lead, with the score at 31-30.

The start of the second half seemed shaky for the Mammoths, however, as a quick 9-0 scoring run from the Falcons had the Mammoths trailing by eight, at 37-45, in the first five minutes. However, while they were down, Amherst was not out: For the next 12 minutes, the Mammoths rallied, gradually closing the Falcons’ lead. Eventually, a three-pointer from Sommers  reduced the Falcons’ lead to just two. With momentum on their side, the Mammoths then took over, with a lay-up from Giovanni Tam ’26 and  a C.J. Mitchell ’25 three-pointer widening their lead. With the lead and little time remaining, the Mammoths stayed on the front foot and saw out the game, ending in a hard-fought win for Amherst by a score of 67-64. Offensively, a career-high 15 points from sophomore Sommers led the team.

The win will likely serve as a massive boost and is an impressive start to the team’s season. Alausa  shared his excitement regarding the rest of the season. “Winning the first game helped as a confidence booster, so it was an amazing experience,” he said. “Overall, [we are] very excited for the rest of the year.”

The Mammoths will be looking to maintain the confidence they gained in their first win into the Marymount University Tournament next weekend. Their next game will be against the University of Lynchburg on Saturday, Nov.19, at 3 p.m.