AMHERST, MA – Williams men's basketball fell 80-78 tonight in another spectacularly tight contest with rival Amherst. The game came down to the final seconds: After Eph Brian Emerson tied the game at 78 with 13 seconds to play after a pick-and-roll with Nate Robertson, Amherst point guard Aaron Toomey hit a fade away jumper in the lane to with less than two seconds to play to give the Jeffs the win.
"I couldn't be any prouder of how we played and the effort and the spirit that our team displayed," Williams head coach Mike Maker said. "It was a heartbreaking loss, but we played awfully well. We were on the short end on the scoreboard. I love my players. We play like that, a coach can't ask for anything more."
The Ephs fell to 16-7 on the season and 4-5 in the NESCAC, while Amherst improved to 21-2 on the year and 9-0 on the conference.
Toomey finished the game with 18 points, five assists, and six boards, and Taylor Barisse hit seven threes en route to a game-high 21 points.
The opening salvos from both teams were effective, as the Ephs and the Jeffs both started the game 4-6 from the field, and neither team could take control. In a half that saw 15 lead changes, Amherst took its largest lead at the 10:55 mark, when Toomey hit a three in the left corner off an inbound play to give the Jeffs an 18-14 lead.
The Ephs leaped back into the game quickly, though, as Wang hit a three on their ensuing possession to make the score 18-17. The teams then traded baskets throughout the remainder of the half until the two-minute mark. Amherst's Jeff Holmes hit a lay-up with 2:02 to play to make the score 35-34 Amherst; the Ephs then came down the court and ran a pick-and-roll with Mayer and Robertson, and Robertson hit Mayer for a dunk with 1:44 to play in the half. The Ephs then stretched their lead with 39 seconds to play, when James Klemm hit a three in transition after pump-faking a Jeff to give the Ephs a 39-35 lead. Toomey came down the court and was fouled, and the Jeff hit one of two free throws to make the score 39-36 before Wang was fouled with no time left. He knocked down both free throws to give Williams a 41-36 lead headed into the break.
The Jeffs came out of the gate in the second half with a spark, going on an 8-2 run to reclaim the lead 43-42 with 18:23 to play in the game. The teams then went back-and-forth again until just after the 10-minute mark. Klemm hit a lay-up to make the score 61-61 with 10:09 to play; from there, the Jeffs were able to hold the Ephs without a field-goal for the following four minutes, going on an 8-0 run in the process that was capped by a jumper from Allen Williamson with 6:54 to play.
The Ephs found their shots again 53 seconds later. First Klemm hit a three with 6:01 remaining, and Wang hit another three 42 seconds later to bring Williams back within two. Williamson hit another jumper, but the Klemm and Emerson both hit layups to make the score 71-71 with 3:29 to play.
Amherst went back up 73-71 with 2:29 to play on a driving lay-up from Willie Workman; a reverse lay-up from Wang tied the game back up with two minutes to play, and the Ephs retook the lead with 1:13 remaining when Wang hit one of two free throws. Amherst came back down the floor and scored quickly, as Barisse hit his biggest bucket of the game after Toomey kicked it out to him at the top of the key; Barisse knocked it down to give Amherst a 76-74 lead with 59 seconds to play.
Robertson came down and was fouled nine seconds later; he hit both ends of the one-and-one to retie the game, before Holmes and Emerson hit their lay-ups and Toomey knocked down the game winner. Wang's heave from three quarter court hit the backboard, and Amherst walked off the court with the 80-78 win.
"Tonight's performance was a total team effort," Maker said. "I thought we represented our school and our program very very well. I hope our players will gain confidence in our performance – you know, learn from it and hopefully have a different outcome if we get to face them again."
Klemm scored 15 points for Williams on the game, and Taylor Epley added 11. Robertson finished with seven points, six assists, and three rebounds.
Workman, with 14 points, was the only other Jeff in double figures.
Williams will now face Trinity on the road tomorrow at 4 p.m., while Amherst faces off with Middlebury at home, also at 4 p.m.