OBERLIN — Amherst had all of its weapons ready Friday night for its season opener.
First the Comets fired off a long-range bombardment, followed by a stifling defensive stand and then used precision shooting from the foul line to finish Oberlin in a 62-53 non-conference win.
The Comets came out firing from behind the 3-point arc in the first quarter — four of Amherst’s first five field goals were from long distance, including three from sophomore Adam Srnis, who finished with 15 points.
“In practice we work on the 3-pointers all the time and we came out ready to shoot,” Srnis said. “We really didn’t play that well in the first half, but in the second half we really turned up the defensive pressure.”
Oberlin withstood the Comets’ initial 3-point barrage and actually held a 28-27 lead at halftime. The Phoenix extended that lead to 41-36 with just under three minutes to play in the third quarter. That was when Amherst turned on the defensive pressure, going into a half-court man-to-man defense and held Oberlin to just four field goals over the final 10:42 of the game.
“I was very proud of the way we played defense against them in the fourth quarter,” Amherst coach John Srnis said. “We were struggling to get stops against them. Our defenders really bought into the challenge of the half-court defense. Anthony Eliopoulos did an excellent job of staying in front of (Jason) Moore and the rest of the guys showed good court awareness as well.”
With the Oberlin offense in check, the Comets turned their attention to the free throw line, where they went 17-for-22 in the fourth quarter to seal the win. Amherst outscored the Phoenix 19-10 in the final quarter although its offense only made two shots from the field. Junior Garrett Klekota led the way, going 9-of-10 from the line on his way to a game-high 25 points.
“I expect to have the ball in the fourth quarter,” Klekota said. “I know a lot of times it’s going to come down to me shooting free throws in the fourth quarter and that is something I work on every day in practice. But it was really our defense that won the game. We really locked it down. Eliopoulos was our main guy. He really shut down their best player.”
Oberlin was led by senior forward Marcus Bailey, who had 16 points and eight rebounds.
Phoenix coach Kurt Russell knows his team needs to do a better job of closing out games.
“Amherst is a great basketball team, but we just didn’t execute like we should have in the fourth quarter,” Russell said. “We fell in love with the jump shot and then we started fouling too much. We need to go back to the drawing board tomorrow and work on our defense. The kids will just have to play a little harder.”
Contact Todd Shapiro at 329-7135 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Amherst 62, Oberlin 53
AMHERST (62): Adam Srnis 4-3-15, Nick Glowacki 1-3-5, Rees Rua 2-0-4, Guy Schuler 1-1-3, Anthony Eliopoulos 1-2-4, Garrett Klekota 5-13-25, Eric Lamb 3-0-6. Totals 17-22-62.
OBERLIN (53): Jason Moore 3-2-8, Charles Lewis 1-0-2, Marcus Bailey 6-2-16, Noland Isom 3-2-9,Mattayo Wyman, 1-0-3, Devante Hougland 0-1-1, DaShaun Horton 6-1-14. Totals 20-8-53.
Amherst 14 13 16 19 — 62
Oberlin 10 18 15 10 — 53
3-pointers — Amherst: Srnis 4, Klekota 2, Oberlin: Bailey 2, Isom, Wyman, Horton. Field goals — Amherst 17 of 41 (41 percent), Oberlin 20 of 50 (40 percent). Free throws — Amherst 22 of 32 (69 percent); Oberlin 8 of 16 (50 percent). Rebounds — Amherst 26, Oberlin 31. Turnovers — Amherst 15, Oberlin 20.
Junior varsity – Amherst, 47-29.\