The Lancers couldn’t string together stops and couldn’t knock down easy shots in the paint or jumpers outside, falling 50-30 in the Region 4D semifinal matchup against underdog Blacksburg to end their pandemic-altered season.
“It’s really tough, and it stings,” Amherst coach Segar Jordan said of not being able to advance further in the postseason, “but it is what it is.”
Early on in the contest, Jordan’s Lancers were engaged, and looked to be pretty evenly matched with No. 4 seed Blacksburg. After one quarter, the teams were knotted up at 7-all. The second quarter, too, produced similar scoring on the two sides, with Blacksburg leading by just four at the break. The Lancers (7-4), despite committing seven turnovers in the second frame and getting half as many shots as Blacksburg, still had plenty of time to complete a comeback.
But the Bruins, after shooting 28% in the first half, came out of the locker room with an extra burst of energy and outscored Amherst 20-11 in the third quarter for a 38-25 lead.
The Lancers couldn’t find the bottom of the bucket, with floaters in the lane clanging off the front of the rim and long shots often missing badly. When the Lancers were able to get into the lane past Blacksburg’s zone, the Bruins’ height and active hands resulted in unforced errors for Amherst, which committed 16 turnovers to Blacksburg’s seven, and often in points on the other side of the court.
“We lost a lot of confidence on the offensive end when we hit the front iron or the back iron. They’d come down and score, and it’s defeating,” Jordan said. “We’ve got to be mentally tougher and rise above that, and unfortunately, tonight I feel like Blacksburg was a little bit more mentally tough than we were.”
Jerry Cashwell led Amherst with seven points. Isaiah Idore pulled down eight rebounds and recorded two blocks. Eight players scored for the Lancers.
Amherst and Jordan, while disappointed with the end to their season, are at least satisfied with being able to stage a season amid the pandemic.
At the start of the campaign in early January, the coach and players were surprised they’d even gotten to the point of playing one game, with all the threats COVID-19 posed. Being able to play 11 games certainly was a positive takeaway, Jordan said, as was the opportunity for growth for a team that will return the majority of its players next season.