Amid rumors of a re-injured foot, senior basketball co-captain Mike Nogelo shot his way into the history books Friday night and became Williams all-time leading scorer. Nogelo surpassed Garcia Major ‘90 and finished the weekend with a career 1,730 points. Along the way, Williams won its last three game home stand of the season, defeating Southern Vermont, Bates, and Tufts by an average victory margin of 39 points.
The Southern Vermont Mountaineers arrived in Williamstown Tuesday night hoping to avenge an earlier season loss. The first quarter of the game was very close, as the Mountaineers stingy defense caused some problems early for the Ephs. With nine minutes gone in the first half, Southern Vermont actually led, 17-15.
Williams again proved why it is such a lethal team, as they then exploded on an 11-0 run over the next three minutes to seal their position in the lead, 26-17. The run was not over, as Williams extended their lead by outscoring Southern Vermont 28-5 in the last ten minutes of the period. The scoring stretch was capped off by a monster ally-oop dunk from Grant Farmer ‘98 to Emmanuel Benjamin ‘01, to take a commanding 21 point lead, 43-22.
Williams then started the second half with a 9-0 run, and did not allow a Mountaineer field goal until five minutes into the period. The lead was comfortable throughout the second half, and the only excitement for the Williams fans was to see how much of a lead the Ephmen could amass. For the game, Williams shot just over 48% from the field while holding Southern Vermont to 31% shooting on 20 of 65 shots.
Nogelo was the game’s leading scorer, finishing the game with 21 points and seven rebounds in just 26 minutes of play. Matt Hunt ‘99 added 16 points, including two for two from behind the three point arc. The Mountaineer’s Eddie Taylor led his team with sixteen points and seven rebounds, while senior captain Tim Nicolis added 12 points and a game high eight rebounds.
Friday’s defining moment seemed inevitable. Mike Nogelo has been the centerpiece of the team for his tenure at Williams, a fact that, because of his modesty, he will not admit. His teammates, though, are more forthcoming with their praise. “I think that it’s a testament to his career,” said Jim Frew ‘99. “I’ve been lucky enough to play with someone of his caliber. He’s not just someone who will go out there and score thirty points a night. If you look at the stats, he’s also up there in rebounds and assists. He’s just a great player.”
It seemed fitting that Nogelo fought through a sore foot to break the record. Earlier in the season, he fractured a bone in his right foot, which sidelined him for the first month of play. His swift recovery had him back in the lineup by January’s first game, and he scored 15 points in 15 minutes off the bench. The early rustiness quickly disappeared, and his game was as fluid and as spectacular as ever going into last week’s contests.
But after Tuesday’s Southern Vermont game, the foot began to bother him again. Although the x-rays showed no sign of re-injury, there were rumors that he would not play Friday night’s game. But Nogelo played, and played well, scoring 18 points in just 17 minutes, nailing eight of ten field goals.
Indeed, Friday’s game was not just a testament to his brilliant career, but to his resiliency and toughness as well. “I feel great about a kid like Mike getting the title,” said head coach Harry Sheehy ‘75. “He is a team first kind of guy.”
Bates never really had a chance. Entering the game with a record of 3-14, Bates was quickly staring down the barrel of a 20-4 deficit within the first six minutes of the game. With two minutes left in the first half, Williams led 46-8. It took Bates nineteen minutes to score ten points, whereas it took Williams only two minutes to do the same. For the game, Williams had more field goals in the first half (18) than Bates had in the entire game (14). The final score, 96-39, represents the largest victory margin of the season for the Ephs. Bates’ leading scorer, Tim Sargent, had seven points in 28 minutes of play.
Nogelo, on his big night, scored a game high 18 points, to add to tri-captain Brendan McGuire’s 12 points and Hunt’s 11 points. When asked about his accomplishment, Nogelo said “It’s real rewarding because so many good players have been through the program. And it’s better that I do it with a team that wins all the time, and to do it with a great group of guys.” His comments are as always, simple, modest and understated, the exact opposite of his demeanor on the court.
Saturday’s game was against Tufts, a solid team coming into the game with a deceptively mediocre 10-7 record. The game started slowly, and Tufts led for a moment, 8-7 with five minutes gone by in the game. Williams, as usual, then exploded with a 14-2 run in the next four minutes to take the lead, 21-10.
The Ephs systematically dismantled the Jumbos, and easily established their dominance the game early on. The Ephs’ defense allowed the Jumbos to shoot just 27% from the field for the game. Only two Tufts players, Brian Skerry and Mike Andrews, scored in double digits, each netting 10 points. Hunt was the game’s hero, putting up 23 points, including five for eight from three point land, in just 24 minutes of play.
Although the past week’s games were against teams that were not of the highest caliber, the Williams College men’s basketball team considers them to be warm-up games for the road trip this coming week. Connecticut College, one of the two teams to beat Williams last year, waits for Williams and a showdown Friday night.
“We are playing real well defensively,” Coach Sheehy said. “Right now, we can make a decent team look bad. We’re in a good spot going into the Conn. College game, which is obviously a huge game for us.”