Mammoth weekend includes Hixon milestone

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Dave Hixon
The Amherst men's basketball team got Dave Hixon to 800 career wins with a huge NESCAC weekend.
Amherst athletics file photo

Amherst started the weekend two games out of first place in the NESCAC and finished it with hosting rights for the upcoming playoffs. The Mammoths followed last night's win over No. 8 Williams with a win over No. 5 Middlebury and David Hixon picked up his 800th career coaching victory in the process.

Division III MBB Active Coaching Wins

   1. Glenn Robinson, Franklin & Marshall - 949
   2. Steve Moore, Wooster - 819
   3. David Hixon, Amherst - 800
   4. Randy Lambert, Maryville (Tenn.) - 696
   5. Mark Edwards, Washington U. - 682

After beating rival Williams 72-57 on Friday night, Amherst rolled past Middlebury at home, 80-68. The Mammoths (16-8, 7-3) seized control with an 18-0 run midway through the first half that staked them to a 32-14 lead. Amherst shot 49 percent (18-for-37) and outrebounded Middlebury 31-13 in the first half. Amherst maintained its double-digit lead the rest of the way and finished with five players scoring double figures. Michael Riopel scored 17 points and grabbed seven rebounds while Johnny McCarthy tallied 11 points and 14 rebounds for Amherst. Jack Farrell scored 22 points for the Panthers (19-5, 7-3) who also lost on Friday night at Hamilton.

Amherst's win, coupled with No. 8 Williams beating No. 15 Hamilton 81-67 and No. 22 Wesleyan beating Bowdoin 74-65, created a five-way tie for first place in the NESCAC. Amherst has a 3-1 record against the other leaders and will be the top seed for the NESCAC tournament beginning next weekend.

"We had a goal and we realized how close we were," Hixon said after the game. "We had something tangible we could grab onto and for two nights we came out and played so hard and so well."

The win also gives Amherst head coach David Hixon 800 in his career, making him the third Division III men's coach to reach that plateau, joining Glenn Robinson at Franklin & Marshall (949 wins) and Steve Moore at Wooster (819). Hixon took over as Amherst's head coach in 1977-78 and now has a career record of 800-287 in 41-plus seasons. Amherst has reached the NCAA Tournament 19 times under Hixon, including national championships in 2007 and 2013 and five other trips to the national semifinals.

"I didn't want people to mention it, I didn't tell anybody. ... I didn't want a countdown," Hixon said. "The two games we won this weekend were far more important."

Amherst awaits the results of Sunday's Tufts-Trinity (Conn.) matchup to learn who it will host in the NESCAC quarterfinals next Saturday.