The webcast of the two basketball games tonight, and live stats, will be available here (women play at 6, men play at 8):

https://www.amherst.edu/athletics/jeffcast

  • Williams travels to Amherst for a huge hoops double-header Friday night.  First, the Ephwomen, fresh off their first win against Bowdoin in 15 tries, try to hand undefeated and top-ranked Amherst its first loss of the season.  A young Eph squad, featuring two frosh, two sophomore and one junior starters, will be a huge underdog to an Amherst team that has dominated all comers this year, including the Ephs in January.  The Ephs have been helped by the recent emergence of promising frosh Claire Baecher, who at 6’3 is the rare combination of a shot-blocker with three point threat.  Amherst has a deep and balanced squad, making defending them all the more difficult; any one of 8-9 players could lead them in scoring on any given night.  Caroline Stedman had been particularly hot of late.  An upset by Williams would lock up a first round home game in the NESCAC tourney and go a long way towards securing an NCAA birth.

  • The situation is reversed in men’s hoops, where second-ranked Williams, which has been on a major roll of late (including a 43 point demolition of a Bowdoin squad that recently defeated Amherst), will be heavily favored against an uncharacteristically struggling Amherst squad, which has been hurt by an injury to star Conor Meehan (he may play vs. the Ephs) and has lost five of its last six games, several by wide margins.  The game is likely to be closer than the teams’ records suggest, as Williams has not swept the Jeffs in the regular season since 1996, a period that includes four final fours and a national championship for Williams!   Moreover, despite their struggles on the road, Amherst is a perfect 7-0 at home.  The nation’s number one team lost convincingly Wednesday night, so the Ephs will likely rise to first in the nation should they sweep Amherst and Trinity, but more important is to at least secure a split, which would lock up home-court advantage in the NESCAC tourney.  Williams continues to lead the nation in field goal percentage, three point percentage (shooting a positively scorching 46 percent from deep, led by a ridiculously hot Blake Schultz, who is 12-12 from deep over his last three games … that’s tough shooting against air), and scoring margin.  One fun wrinkle: Williams and Amherst are also competing to see who can raise the most money for Haiti relief.  The winner will be announced at half-time.  Watch both games here, and for those watching, feel free to use this post as a live blog.  You can also (for a fee) hear the Williams broadcast, including Pres. Falk’s comments at halftime.
  • In the third and fourth rivalry games this weekend, Amherst is once again favored, as their defending national champion women’s ice hockey team travels to Williams for back-to-back contests with an improved Williams team on Friday night and Saturday.  New women’s hockey coach Marissa O’Neil has led a rapid turnaround of the program, and she is no stranger to Amherst, as she was their assistant coach last season.   Although the Ephs have won five of their last six, they will have a tough time toppling second-ranked Amherst … this year, at least.  Amherst features previews of all of the rivalry games here.
  • Meanwhile, men’s ice hockey continues its historic season, and is currently ranked sixth in the country (the highest they’ve been ranked in recent memory, and perhaps ever).  The Ephs continue to be led by NESCAC’s reigning player of the week and leading goal scorer Alex Smigelski, a semifinalist for the prestigious Concannon award.  The Ephs stunned number two Norwich last weekend, but had a set-back Tuesday night against perennial foil Middlebury.  The next four games will be critical, as the Ephs aspire to host a NESCAC playoff game and make a case for inclusion in their first-ever NCAA tournament.
  • Several articles highlighting future members of the Class of 2014: wrestler Michael Lomio, running back Kristian LaPointe (previously mentioned on Ephblog), and quarterback Adam Marske, who you can see video of here, and who was recruited by a variety of larger schools.
  • Here are two more (seemingly weekly) features on star wrestler Ryan Malo.  Wrestling is gearing up for next week’s New Englands, when five wrestlers ranked first or second in their weight classes will be attempting to wrestle their way into nationals.  Speaking of wrestling, congrats to Tom Prarie ’05 for his induction into the New England wrestling hall of fame.
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