Men’s Basketball Off to Dominant Start, Undefeated in First Five Games

The men’s basketball team is off to a red-hot start, handily winning their first six games by an average of 32 points per game, Alex Noga '23 writes.

The men’s basketball team is off to a white-hot start, handily winning their first six games by commanding margins. After a home victory against Thomas College on Nov. 19, the Mammoths have strung together four consecutive home victories, outscoring their opposition 436 to 244 in total for a colossal average point differential of 32 points per game.

In their home opener on Nov. 17, the Mammoths defeated Colby-Sawyer College by a score of 89-52. After the Chargers scored the first basket of the game, the Mammoths responded with eight unanswered points and held the lead for the remainder of the game. After leading 46-33 at halftime, the Mammoths embarked on a 23-0 run, during which they shot 9-of-14 from the field and forced six turnovers. It was a complete team effort, with 48 points coming off the bench, including 15 points from Mohammed Alausa ’24, who shot 4-for-5 from the field and 6-for-8 from the free throw line. The Mammoths forced 19 turnovers and held a 24-11 advantage in points off turnovers. They also held the edge in second-chance points, collecting 13 offensive rebounds and registering 18 points off rebounds compared to the Chargers’ seven.

The Mammoths followed up their strong showing at home with more displays of their superiority at the Ken Wright ’52 Memorial Invitational Tournament on Nov. 19 and Nov. 20. Amherst opened the tournament against Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts (MCLA) and won by a lopsided score of 100-38. Captain Grant Robinson ’22 recorded his 1,000th career point en route to a 21-point performance. He sat at 997 points prior to tip-off and hit a three pointer to score the first basket of the game. He is the 31st member of Amherst’s 1000-point club and, with 1040 points through the first five games of the season, is among Amherst’s top 25 all-time scorers. Amherst never relinquished the lead after Robinson’s first bucket, going on an 18-0 run in the first half and outscoring the Trailblazers by a 35-8 margin in the final 10 minutes of play. The Mammoths shot 55 percent from the field (39-for-71) while holding the Trailblazers to a hapless 15 percent (10-for-65). By the end of the game, there was no doubt who was the real Massachusetts liberal arts college.

Following this victory, Amherst defeated SUNY Geneseo 79-31 the next day to claim the title of tournament champions. Captain Garrett Day ’21 led the way with 26 points and added four rebounds and a career-high five steals to be named MVP of the tournament. All of Day’s field goals were three pointers, as he shot 8-for-14 from beyond the arc and was a perfect 2-for-2 from the charity stripe. Robinson, who added 21 points, and Michael Schretter ’23, who averaged 10.5 points and 5.5 rebounds over the two games, were both named to the All-Tournament team.

While most of the college community was away from campus enjoying the break, the Mammoths returned to action on Tuesday, Nov. 23 to defeat Westfield State by another convincing score of 89-59. The Mammoths once again did not trail at any point in the contest. Day recorded a career-high 31 points, hitting eight three pointers for the second game in a row and shot a perfect 7-for-7 from the free throw line. Robinson added 14 points and corralled 10 rebounds for his first double-double of the year. Canin Reynolds ’25 tallied a career-high 12 points on 5-of-9 shooting in just his fifth game.

Through their first five contests, the Mammoths are shooting .506 from the field and holding their opponents to just .309. They are firing on all cylinders on offense, averaging 89.8 points per game, and are playing suffocating defense on the other end, allowing just 49.2 points per game. The Mammoths are currently on pace to set a record for the highest average points per game that was set in the 1997-98 season with 87.12.

Alausa credits the team’s focus, hard work, and selflessness for their early success. “Everyone is buying in and giving up personal goals for team goals,” Alausa said. “Everyone has been extremely selfless and has put aside any distractions that might inhibit the team’s success. Every guy is super reliable and super caring, so it’s great to foster a competitive and safe environment.” This is Head Coach Marlon Sears’s first season with the Mammoths, after taking over the program from historic coach Dave Hixon who led the team for 42 seasons. Alausa acknowledged the strong leadership qualities that Coach Sears has been able to instill into his team. “Since he got to campus, [Coach Sears] made it clear that all the players were his number one priority, which shows his dedication and resolve towards Amherst basketball,” Alausa said. “Even off the court he is always there for us, and on the court we trust him, so it’s kind of the best of both worlds.”

The Mammoths continued their blazing start with another 25-pont victory against Thomas College on Tuesday, Nov. 30th, beating the Terriers 79-54. They will next travel to Morristown, New Jersey to battle Saint Elizabeth University on Dec. 4.  

Photo Courtesy of Amherst Athletics