The men’s basketball team opened the new season with an exhibition win over the Jaguars of Nicaragua’s Universidad Americana by the score of 79-62 last Friday night in Chandler Gym.
The game’s proceeds, nearly $1,000, went directly to aid the citizens of Nicaragua in the wake of the destruction caused by Hurricane Mitch. The Universidad Americana team just completed a six-game tour in the U.S. that highlighted their talents as three-time national champions of Nicaragua.
Williams, in their first test without the familiar faces of now departed seniors Michael Nogelo, Brendan McGuire, and Grant Farmer, looked to establish a new identity. The Ephs dominated much of the game, briefly opening up a 13-point lead near the end of the first half that was then cut to five by halftime. Williams then came out strong from the locker room and gradually pulled ahead for what turned out to be a convincing 17-point victory.
Co-captain Matt Hunt ’99, who averaged 17.7 points and 4.3 rebounds per game last year, led the way for the Ephs by scoring 26 points and ripping down eight rebounds. Mike Holland ’99 outworked and out-muscled the U. Americana defense for 12 points and six rebounds, while chipping in two assists and a steal. Starting guards Jim Sheehy ’99 and co-captain Jim Frew ’99 played tenacious defense, forcing four steals each while also dishing out six and seven assists respectively.
Andrew Conley ’01 showed his range by going four of seven from the field for 11 points and hitting a clutch three to quell a second half U. Americana rally. Freshman Chris Maki demonstrated the Ephs’ versatility and hope of a very bright future, coming off the bench for 11 points, three rebounds, three assists, one block, and one steal.
When asked about the team’s performance, Hunt responded, “We were pleased with the effort [Friday] night, however we must clean up a lot of things on both ends of the floor in order to have any chance of accomplishing any of our team goals. It should be an interesting year due to our depth and the emergence of a number of players who should see action for the first time.”
U. Americana was led by Jason Walter, who poured in 18 points as well as a thunderous first half dunk, which wowed the Eph crowd. Poor shot selection, and a tendency to fall apart defensively whenever the Ephs mustered offensive pressure plagued the Nicaraguan team. Angel Mallona, the U. Americana coach, also provided some entertainment for the crowd, garnering three technical fouls with his colorful sideline antics directed at the game’s officials.
Williams opens up its regular season against Castelton State at home Friday night in the opening round of the Berkshire Classic.