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Oppenheimer’s Double-Double helps SEU down Amherst
By Donnie Smith
LAKELAND, Fla.—It took about a half to shake off the rust, but once Southeastern did, it was able to come away with its final win in 2017.
Jeremy Oppenheimer’s double-double effort off the bench helped the seventh-ranked Fire (12-2) pick up a 76-65 victory over Amherst College (7-2) Saturday afternoon.
Oppenheimer totaled 20 points and snagged 12 rebounds, picking up 10 points and 10 boards in the second half alone, and was a key component to a defensive effort that held the 23rd-ranked Mammoths to 35% from the field in the second 20 minutes.
“He took some good shots and hit some daggers for us,” said Barsh. “When they went on a run, Opp was there for us.”
Ryan Atkins’ 30-point effort was the main catalyst on the offensive side, which included a 3-pointer with 11:01 left in the first half to put the Fire up 24-15. However, the Mammoths then went on an 8-0 run over the next three minutes to cut the SEU advantage to one. Four of those points came from Grant Robinson, who was one of three Amherst players with 12 points.
Amherst took a four-point lead on a 3-ball by Tommy Mobley with 5:47 left in the half, but the Fire closed the half with a 14-3 run to hold a 40-33 lead at halftime.
“They exploited a switch we were running on their ball screen,” said Barsh. “We went away from that and forced them to go deeper in the shot clock, and converted rebounds into layups.”
With 15:51 left in the contest, the Fire took their largest lead when Oppenheimer drained a 3-pointer to put SEU up 50-37.
However, the Mammoths refused to go quietly, whittling the advantage all the way down to five with 2:43 left on a layup by Michael Riopel, who finished with 10 points. Amherst was only able to manage two more points, going 1-for-6 from the field with a turnover.
Grant Bryant was also in double figures for the hosts, scoring 11 points, and hauling in nine rebounds, helping the Fire outrebound Amherst 46-36.
The win was the 100th in Barsh’s career. In his sixth season, Barsh is 100-68.
“When you go through the things we’ve gone through as a staff, and to find a way to win against a good Amherst team, it was good to see our guys grind and earn that win,” said Barsh.
Southeastern returns to Sun Conference play on Thursday, hosting Coastal Georgia.
“We need to take better care of the ball and play better defense in the half court,” said Barsh. “The big key in the second half is toughness.”