Scoring Runs Define Men’s Basketball’s Two Close Losses

The men’s basketball team returned to action this past weekend, closing NESCAC regular-season play with a tough weekend in which they lost close games to Trinity and Connecticut College.

This past weekend, the Mammoths took two trips to Connecticut to face the Trinity Bantams and the Connecticut College Camels in the final games of their 2021-22 regular season. While the Mammoths returned home with two close losses, they showed the type of resilience and determination that will bode well for them in the postseason.

On Friday, Feb. 11, the Mammoths took the court in Hartford, Conn., for their first conference game of the weekend. They started the game off flat, going down 6-0 early, a deficit that would eventually grow to 24-9 with just under 10 minutes remaining in the first half. The Mammoths clawed their way back into the game soon after, however, with a 9-0 run punctuated by a Will Scherer ’25 dunk, bringing the game back within reach. After the big swings of the first half, the teams entered the locker room with Trinity leading 33-27. The second half continued much like the first: the Mammoths went down by as much as 10 before Garrett Day ’22 hit two three-balls and Beluolisah Oranye ’24 got to the basket for a nice layup during an 8-0 run that brought the game to within one. However, this was the closest that the Mammoths would get. Even though another three by Tim McCarthy ’22 narrowed the gap to two with two minutes to go, Amherst couldn’t convert down the stretch, with a missed three and a turnover dooming them to fall to the Bantams by a score of 62-53.

Grant Robinson ’22 paced the team in scoring, registering 14 points in the contest, closely followed by Day with 11. Robinson also tied for the team lead in rebounds with six, with Oranye and Mohammed Alausa ’24 also recording six each.

After a quick turnaround, the Mammoths took on Connecticut College the next day in their final NESCAC regular-season contest. While the Mammoths started this contest better offensively, trading baskets with the Camels in the early going, they couldn’t keep it up, eventually succumbing to a 10-2 Conn run that gave the Camels a six-point lead. But on Saturday, the Mammoths found a quick answer, going on their own run that Ryker Vance ’25 ended with a slam to tie the game back up at 17-17. Going into the half down 34-26 after giving up another 12-2 run, Amherst again rallied, with McCarthy nailing two threes and Scherer scoring another dunk to re-tie the game. With another pair of opposing late-game runs, the Mammoths found themselves up three after three C.J. Mitchell ’25 triples, but this time, the Camels put the game away for good, taking the lead after scoring six straight points to win the game by a score of 71-65.

Despite the loss, McCarthy had an amazing game, scoring a career-high 19 points, including shooting 5-8 from three-point range and recording six rebounds. Mitchell also recorded a career-best scoring performance with 13 points — all scored in just nine minutes off the bench.

The Mammoths ended the season in fifth place in the conference and have clinched a first-round bye in the NESCAC Tournament, which begins this weekend. Because of the restrictions that frequent cancellations and postponements due to Covid have put on teams’ schedules, this year’s NESCAC tournament will include every team in the conference. With the No. 5 seed in hand, Amherst will face archrival Williams for the third time this season, this time with a semifinal berth on the line.

Center Mike Schretter ’23 said of the team’s games this weekend, “It’s tough to lose those games this weekend, but we all believe in each other and we are excited for the opportunity at Williams on Saturday. Our goal is to win this game on Saturday and focus on Williams.”

The two bitter rivals will meet in Williamstown this coming Saturday, Feb. 19, with tipoff scheduled for 2 p.m.