Providence, R.I. – Junior forward Patrick Matthew scored a career-high 17 points to go along with seven rebounds, but the Rhode Island College men’s basketball team couldn’t overcome the hot-shooting Amherst Lord Jeffs in a 72-63 setback at The Murray Center on Tuesday evening.
Amherst (15-5) raced out to an eight-point lead when freshman forward Johnny McCarthy (Medfield, MA) nailed a three-pointer off a feed from sophomore guard Reid Berman (Winnetka, IL) with 13:51 remaining. The Lord Jeffs’ lead ballooned to as many as 12, but a layup from Matthews with 1:34 to play in the half pulled the Anchormen (14-6) to within five, 30-25. A pair of late free throws from Berman sent the Lord Jeffs into the break with a six-point, 32-26 lead.
Amherst shot a blistering 41.7 percent (5-for-12) from long range in the first 20 minutes, while the Anchormen struggled, converting on only 35.3 percent (12-for-34) of their shots from the floor.
The Anchormen opened the second half by quickly cutting the deficit down to three, 32-29, but a 7-2 response by Amherst put the visitors in front by eight, 39-31, with 14:44 remaining.
A pair of free throws from Matthews made the score 51-42 Amherst with 9:06 to play. The Anchormen cut the lead back down to five, 51-46, as freshman Jerelle Washington (Providence, RI) converted off an Amherst turnover with 8:07 to play. Amherst responded with an 11-2 run, capped by a pair of free throws by sophomore forward Eric Conklin (Scottsdale, AZ), with 4:32 remaining in the game. A Matthews jumper cut the deficit to four, 65-61, with just over a minute remaining but the Lord Jeffs got a huge three-pointer by sophomore guard Jeff Racy (Ridgefield, CT) from the corner with the shot clock winding down proved to be a dagger in the Anchormen’s comeback bid.
Junior forward Connor Green (Bedford, NH) notched a double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds, while Berman had nine points and a team-high six assists. Amherst shot 42.6 percent (20-for-47) from the field, 48.0 percent (12-for-25) from behind the three-point arc and 60.6 percent (20-for-33) from the free throw line.
Matthews paced RIC, while senior guard Eric Alleyne (Watertown, MA) posted 14 points and four assists. The Anchormen shot 35.2 percent (25-for-71) from the field and 16.7 percent (3-for-18) from downtown for the game. They shot 66.7 percent (10-for-15) from the charity stripe as a team.
In upcoming action, Rhode Island College will resume Little East Conference action at Keene State on Saturday, Feb. 7 (3 p.m.).