Men's Basketball Sees Season End With NCAA Tournament Loss to Amherst

Kyle Nadeau

Worcester, MA --- Amherst senior Conor Meehan (Meriden, CT) recorded totals of 20 points, 10 assists and six rebounds to help pace the Lord Jeffs to a 92-70 win this evening over host WPI in the second round of the NCAA Division III Men's Basketball Tournament.

Amherst (24-3) will play Rhode Island College in Friday's sectionals at a site to be determined. The Lord Jeffs will make their ninth sectionals appearance and the eighth in the last 10 years. The visitors improve their record to 26-13 overall in their 13th NCAA appearance.

The Engineers end their season at 23-6 in their eighth tournament berth and sixth under head coach Chris Bartley.

For Amherst, junior Taylor Barrise (Allendale, NJ) and classmate David Waller (Tampa, FL) posted totals of 18 and 17 points, respectively, while freshman Aaron Toomey (Northampton, MA) chipped in with 15 points off the bench.

Sophomore Peter Kaasila (Plainstow, NH) also distinguished himself with a game-best 12 rebounds to go along with nine points and three blocks.

WPI senior Jeffrey Robinson (Granby, CT) led all scorers with 21 points and four helpers as senior Kyle Nadeau (Webster, MA) added 14 points in 22 minutes of action. Junior Matt Carr (Somersworth, NH) finished with nine caroms, six points and four blocks for the Crimson and Gray.

The Engineers trailed by four with 8:46 to play before intermission (26-22) before Amherst used an 18-1 run to take a commanding 44-23 edge four minutes later.

Following a layup by Meehan, the Engineers buckled down on defense and netted four consecutive points to trim the lead to 17 points, but Toomey would can two tallies from the charity stripe for the 48-20 advantage at the intermission.

In the opening frame, the Lord Jeffs shrugged off an 0-for-3 stretch from beyond the arc to connect for nine of their next 13 shots from downtown. Using a strong dribble penetration offense, Barrise would hit five of his six treys in the contest in that run while Toomey and Meehan would each knock back a pair.

After Amherst scored the first four points of the second stanza for a 52-29 lead, the Crimson and Gray utilized strong full court pressure to rally with a 17-4 surge and make it a 56-46 game with 15:04 left to play. Robinson and Etten combined for 11 of the Engineers 17 points during that stretch.

Following a pair of free throws by WPI junior Jaime Shannon (Lowell, MA) that made the score 59-48 at 13:18, Amherst went on a 7-2 spurt to open up a 67-50 advantage.

The Boynton Hillers tried to get back into the game with a jumper by junior Fernando Perez (Lowell, MA) with 10:45 remaining (67-52) and a lay-up by classmate David Brown (Lowell, MA) at the 9:25 mark (70-54), but that was as close as they would get the rest of the contest. 

Amherst finished with a blistering 53.4 shooting percent from the field for the game (31-for-58) as nearly half their offense came by way of the three point arc (15-for-29). The Lord Jeffs also enjoyed a 44-35 edge off the backboards and were credited with 21 assists on 31 made baskets.

The Engineers ended the evening shooting 32 percent (22-for-68) overall and 19-for-24 from the charity stripe (79.2 percent). 

The Crimson and Gray ended with slim leads in points in the paint (30-27), points off of turnovers (15-12) as WPI's bench outscored their opponents, 33-23.

Robinson ends his career 12th on WPI's all-time scoring list with 1,282 points.  His total is the second highest among non-four-year players.  Robinson, Nadeau and Ben Etten (Hollis, NH) and Ryan Stock (Grafton MA) all donned their Engineer uniforms for the last time this evening.

Story written by Steven M. Miller Jr. - Worcester State Sports Information