Perennial Powerhouse Amherst Edges Goucher in OT

Perennial Powerhouse Amherst Edges Goucher in OT

TOWSON, Md. — After trailing for almost the entire game against nationally-ranked Amherst, Goucher appeared to have completed a thrilling comeback victory in the closing seconds of the second half.

Kevin Miles (District Heights, Md./Gwynn Park) converted a 3-point opportunity to give the Gophers a 64-63 lead with 17 seconds to go, their first advantage since they held a 3-2 edge early in the first half.

A pair of free throws from Tucker Canary (Silver Spring, Md./Montgomery Blair) would extend the margin to three points, but Johnny McCarthy sank a clutch 3-pointer at the buzzer for the Lord Jeffs to send the game to overtime, and 15th-ranked Amherst outlasted Goucher in the extra session to pull out an 80-76 win.

The Gophers (2-9) trailed 50-35 with 11:15 to play before beginning their furious rally. Norman Allen II (Bowie, Md./Riverdale Baptist) had a season-high 12 points, all in the second half, to help fuel the comeback, while Miles finished with a team-high 20 points.

The Lord Jeffs (7-2), who reached the Division III Final Four last season and won the national championship the year prior, used their size advantage early on, outrebounding Goucher 33-16 in the opening 20 minutes. Neither team shot better than 35 percent from the floor in the first half, but the disparity on the glass led to 12 extra attempts from the floor for Amherst, which was able to take a 36-26 lead into the intermission. Fifteen of those points came on 3-pointers from Jeff Racy, who hit 5-of-8 attempts from long distance in the half.

Racy added three more long balls following the break to finish with a game-high 24 points, but the Gophers began to assert themselves offensively in the final 10 minutes.

Much of that was due to Allen, who sank his first two points of the game on a layup with 9:32 remaining that cut the deficit to 50-39. That began a stretch where the junior guard scored 12 of his team's 14 points, capped off by a layup with 6:23 to play that made it 55-51 in favor of the Lord Jeffs.

Amherst maintained a 63-58 cushion with 1:33 left when Miles hit a pair of attempts from the free throw line to reduce the margin to three points. Troy DeShields (Seaford, Del./Sussex Technical) got Goucher one point closer with 46 seconds on the clock after he hit 1-of-2 attempts from the charity stripe.

A Lord Jeff giveaway then set up Miles clutch 3-point play to give the Gophers their first lead of the half. Jacob Nabatoff missed a dunk on the ensuing Amherst possession, and Canary's two free throws came with only five seconds left in the frame. The Lord Jeffs, though, quickly charged down the court and McCarthy nailed a tying shot from the right-hand side of the circle.

Another 3-point play from Miles allowed Goucher to jump in front again to start overtime, but Jayde Dawson responded with five-straight points for Amherst. Chris Outing (New Windsor, N.Y./James I. O'Neill) hit a layup in the paint to level the score at 71 with 3:37 left, but that would turn out to be the final tie of the contest.

McCarthy made back-to-back layups, and the Gophers would get no closer than three points in the remainder of overtime.

Outing finished with 13 points and nine rebounds, just missing out on his third double-double of the season, while DeShields added 12 points and eight boards. Miles has now scored at least 20 points in four consecutive contests, and he is averaging a team-best 14.6 points per game on the season.

David George controlled the glass for the Lord Jeffs, finishing with 16 rebounds to go along with 10 points and three blocks.

Goucher will not have to wait long to shake off tonight's defeat, as the Gophers get back into Landmark play with a 7:30 home matchup against Juniata next Tuesday night. Goucher is currently 1-1 in conference play, while the Eagles have dropped each of their first two Landmark matchups.