The men’s basketball teamed tallied two wins this weekend, one against Connecticut College, and the other against little three rival, Wesleyan University. Their record now stands at 20-3.
In a game that had serious post-season implications, Williams defeated the Connecticut College Camels by a slim margin with a final score of 85-83. Both teams entered the game with a record of 18-2. However, Williams was ranked third in New England while Connecticut College was in a three-way tie for fourth place. The Camels, who had the distinction of being one out of only three teams to defeat the Ephs last year, gave them quite a challenge as the game was decided in the last few seconds of play.
Unlike many of their other games, the Ephs did not clearly dominate their opponent. Midway through the first half, Connecticut, sparked by strong three-point shooting, had amassed a commanding 37-19 lead. But the momentum changed as Williams went on a 21-7 run led by Matt Hunt ’99 who dominated shooting outside the three-point arc. At the end of the first half, the Ephs’ explosive offense was successful at narrowing the gap so that they trailed 44-40 heading into the second half. “It was a war on both sides. They were out for blood. They wanted to win this one and knock us off our pedestal, but we edged out the win,” Michael Holland ’99 said.
The second half belonged to Mike Nogelo ’98. Nogelo, who was limited to eight points during the first half, exploded in the second half finishing with 32 points, 11 rebounds and six assists to go along with his double-double. Spurred on by Nogelo’s dazzling offensive display, the Ephs were able to control the second half taking an early lead.
For most of the second half, the Ephs were leading by as many as six points. During the final minutes of the game, Connecticut rallied and evened the score at 83-83. With just a few seconds remaining in regulation play, Grant Farmer ‘98 pulled up for a ten-foot jump shot, which missed, but Matt Hunt ‘99 was there to tip in the go-ahead basket.
With 1.2 seconds left, the Ephs put on a strong defensive display as they tried to deny Connecticut a final shot. Jim Frew ’99 made a miraculous defensive play as he stole the inbound pass with 0.8 seconds left in the game. Although Frew ‘99 stepped out of bounds, his defensive effort sealed the victory. With the final buzzer about to sound, Connecticut Camel Kareem Tatum threw up a half court shot that rimmed out giving a the Ephs a final scare. The men’s basketball team won the game 85-83 extending their record to 19-2.
The team showed an all-around effort with Nogelo and Hunt leading the team in scoring. “This game had serious implications. If we had lost, we might have been out of the NCAA tournament,” star forward Nogelo said. Nogelo said of the Ephs’ slow start, “We weren’t applying the pressure in the first half like we needed to. We fell behind, but we’ve been there before. In the second half we changed that and got the job done.”
On Saturday, hoping to extend their winning streak, the Ephs traveled to Middletown, Connecticut where they easily handed little-three rival Wesleyan Cardinals an 87-65 defeat. Nogelo led the scoring with 22 points and added seven assists to yet another all-around effort.
The Ephs put on an excellent defensive performance holding Wesleyan to 20% shooting in the first half. Galvanized by this defensive prowess, the Ephs finished the first half with a 40-22 lead. The Williams offense, lethal as ever, shot 53% from the field as they coasted to another victory. “This game was just as hard as any. We had to get up from the tough game at Connecticut. We came out very strong, made crisp passes and were sharp on defense,” said forward Brendan McGuire ’98.
As the regular season begins to draw to a close, each game increases in importance as the Ephs (20-2) look for an NCAA bid.