WATERVILLE, ME – The Williams men's basketball team narrowly defeated Colby (6-14, 2-5 NESCAC) tonight 64-61. With the win, the Ephs (19-2, 7-0) stay tied atop the NESCAC standings with Amherst.
The Ephs and Mules started off evenly matched, but the Ephs looked like they were going to pull away with just under ten minutes to play in the opening frame. After Michael Longinoff scored for the Mules to cut the Ephs' lead to two, Michael Mayer responded with a finish inside to make it 23-19. On the next Eph possession, Taylor Epley hit a long ball to push the lead to seven, but the Ephs were unable to capitalize on the momentum.
The Mules came bounding back with a 12-0 run that started with a jumper and pair of three-pointers from Patrick Stewart. Danny Chase then finished a lay-up to make it 29-26, and Sam Willson ended the run with a jumper. Ryan Kilcullen finally ended the drought for the Ephs when he went 1-for-2 from the charity stripe with 2:53 left to play. The rest of the half passed with the two teams trading buckets, and the Mules went into the break up 38-35.
Out of the locker rooms, both teams struggled finding the hoop. Daniel Wohl scored the first field goal of the second half almost five minutes in. Neither team was able to pull away, and the game came down to the final several minutes.
With 3:54 on the clock, Connor O'Neil finished in the paint for the Mules to cut the Eph lead to 56-54. Nate Robertson responded with a lay-up for the Ephs to push the lead to four. Willson then hit a jumper, but Epley hit a lay-up to keep the Eph lead. Colby, however, got four straight points from O'Neil and Stewart to tie the game up at 60 with 47 seconds left to play. Epley hit a huge lay-up to give the Ephs the lead they needed with 29 seconds on the clock. After a Mayer foul, however, Stewart went to the line for Colby with five seconds left. He made the first free throw, but after an icing timeout called by Williams, he missed the second. Forced to send the Ephs to the line in an attempt to get the ball back, Colby fouled Wohl. The end of the game pressure did not seem to faze him as he hit both free throws. O'Neil missed a desperation three for the Mules, and the Ephs walked off the court with the hard-fought victory.
Leading the way tonight for the Ephs was Epley with 19. Wohl put up 17 on 6-for-8 shooting, and Mayer finished with a double-double with ten points and ten rebounds. The Ephs shot 44.8% from the field.
Stewart posted a double-double for the Mules with 13 points and ten rebounds. Willson added 12 for Colby, and Ryan Jann ten to round out the double-digits club. The Mules shot 45.5% from the field.
After the game, Coach Maker said, "I'm very proud of our guys. I don't think we played poorly, I thought we shot from the three-point line poorly. It wasn't our usual percentage. Any road victory in our conference is a good victory. I thought our guys particularly in the second half really defended and found a way to win at times an ugly game. It was high scoring in the first half, and in the second half, both teams struggled to score. I think both teams rolled up their sleeves and guarded. We made the right plays at the right time, so I give a lot of credit to our guys."
He also complimented Colby's defense: "I give credit to Colby. They run very similar concepts to us. I think with the familiarity they have with our system, they did a good job guarding us from the three-point line; although, we had some open looks that we normally make. I think it's a combination of them playing good defense and our not shooting our normal percentage from three."
He added, "Having said that, it doesn't matter if you win by one or 20. A win is a win, and we remain atop the standings in the NESCAC and look forward to another challenging game tomorrow at Bowdoin."
The Ephs return to the court tomorrow at Bowdoin. Game time is set for 2:00 PM.