1 Western New England College gives top-ranked Amherst battle at Pioneer Valley Classic

Junior Kyle Fredette selected to All-Classic Team 

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. – Western New England College gave defending NCAA Division III champion and top-ranked (d3hoops.com) Amherst College a strong battle before dropping a 63-51 decision Saturday afternoon (Dec. 1) in a second round game of the Pioneer Valley Men’s Hoop Classic at Springfield College’s Blake Arena.

Senior guard Andrew Olson (San Diego, CA) led the unbeaten Lord Jeffs with 16 points (11 coming in the second half) on 6-of-7 shooting from the field, including 4-for-4 from long-range three-point territory. He also dished out seven assists for the second straight game.

The Golden Bears, who defeated host Springfield 59-54 Friday night, had an excellent start taking an 18-13 lead on a jumper by senior guard Asif Abdul-Wadud (Springfield, MA) with 10:51 left in the opening half.

There were four ties before Amherst finally took a 31-29 lead into halftime.

Amherst (5-0) then opened the second half with a 17-0 run, which included three consecutive three-pointers, for a 48-29 advantage at the 14:08 mark.

Abdul-Wadud scored on a lay-up for the Golden Bears’ first points 6:04 into the half, then the Lord Jeffs took their biggest lead at 51-31 when sophomore forward Steven Wheeler (Bloomington, MN) drained another long three-pointer with 11:48 remaining in the game.

Western New England College (3-3) got itself right back into the game with a 12-2 run to trail by only 10 (53-43) with 7:14 left in the contest.

Senior guard Ryan Hernandez (Hampton Bays, NY) provided a big spark off the bench by scoring 10 of his team high 14 points in a 1:46 span to keep the Golden Bears within 10 (57-47) with 5:59 remaining.

WNEC, however, scored only four points the rest of the way.

Abdul-Wadud finished with 10 points, three rebounds, two assists, and a pair of steals.

Junior forward Kyle Fredette (Wallingford, VT) totaled nine points and three rebounds. He made the All-Classic after scoring 25 points and pulling down 13 rebounds in the two contests.

Amherst had two other players scoring in double figures, senior center Kevin Hopkins (Greenfield Center, NY) (15 points) and senior forward Brandon Jones (Hopatcong, NJ) (10 points). Jones also had a game high eight rebounds.

The Lord Jeffs, who had averaged 99.2 points in their first four outings defeating opponents by a 41.4-point margin, shot 58.1% from the field and made 8-of-15 three-pointers (53.3%).

Western New England College shot 38.6% from the floor and made only 3-of-15 of its three-point attempts.