After dominating early season opponents, the Williams men’s basketball team has run straight into the brunt of a difficult NESCAC season. The team won this past weekend’s road games over Bates and Tufts, but they lost both games over dead week and a game a week later, leaving the Ephs current record at 16-4. The losses came at the hands of Amherst, Trinity and Springfield College, a non-league foe. Sandwiched between the losses were wins by Williams over Colby, Bowdoin and Union.
This past weekend was an important one for the Ephs as they tried to get back to their winning ways. The three losses were by a combined 11 points, and the Ephs could very easily be 19-1 right now. However, the losses made games at Bates and Tufts critical to the Ephs’ chances at post-season play. A bid to the NCAA tourney is still possible, since Amherst dropped consecutive games this weekend and since six teams are taken for the Division III tournament from the Northeast region. If Williams is not chosen for the NCAA tourney, a spot in the ECAC tournament is virtually guaranteed.
In the Saturday game at Tufts, Williams coach Harry Sheehy captured his 300th career victory, as Williams pulled out a 79-74 win over the Jumbos. Matt Hunt ’99, the team’s leading scorer, broke out with 33 points to lead the Ephs. Hunt, who has been the primary scoring option for Williams all season, sank 10 of his 17 attempts from the field, including six of 11 from behind the three-point arc. The 33 points were also a season-high for Hunt, who notched 32 in an earlier win over Skidmore. Hunt’s points were definitely needed, as Tufts played a strong game on its home court. Williams led by a mere point at the half, 42-41, and the Ephmen had to fight the Jumbos to the end to earn a 79-74 win. The Ephs shot 48% from the field on the afternoon, a much-improved mark from what the team was shooting through much of January.
Mike Holland ’99, who quietly has established himself as one of the most valuable players on the Williams squad, had another fine effort, scoring 15 points and grabbing seven rebounds. Joe Weiss ’01, who has played very well off of the bench of late in place of the injured Manny Benjamin ’01, had 13 points and a team-high nine boards. Jim Frew ’99, who has been streaky at times from the field, finished with 11 points and added eight assists to his Williams career record number. Also, against Tufts, Frew started his 100th consecutive varsity game for the Ephs, a school record.
Friday’s game against the Bates Bobcats wasn’t quite as tight as the Tufts game, as Williams shot out to a 52-41 lead at the half behind 53% field goal shooting. The Bobcats equaled the Ephs 38 points in the second period to leave the game’s final score at 90-79 in favor of the Ephs. Holland was the key to victory over a balanced Bates team. He ended the game with a double-double of 22 points, on 8 of 10 shooting, and 13 rebounds. Frew also played a phenomenal all-around game. He knocked in 17 points and tallied eight assists and eight rebounds. Hunt and Dan Dickens ’01 were the other Ephs in double figures, finishing with 16 and 10 points, respectively.
In the Bates game, Frew scored his 1000th career point. He is the second Eph to accomplish this feat this year, joining Hunt in the 1000 point club. Frew also needs only 12 more rebounds and 10 more assists to reach the 500 mark in both of those categories. Frew would be the first Williams player to ever score 1000 points and have both 500 rebounds and 500 assists. Mike Holland needs only 14 rebounds to reach 500 for his career as well.
The Tufts win was career victory 300 for head coach Harry Sheehy, a 1975 graduate of Williams. Sheehy is only the second Eph coach to reach this plateau, joining his own coach, Al Shaw, who currently holds the record for career wins. Shaw, who also coached Sheehy’s father, Harry Jr. ’51, totaled 302 wins and 171 losses.
This weekend Williams will play host to Connecticut College and Wesleyan. Conn College comes into the Friday game with a perfect 20-0 record, and the Camels will probably be ranked #1 in the NABC Division 3 national poll entering the game. This game is huge for the Ephs, who look to spoil Conn’s perfect season and earn an NCAA berth. Tip off is set for 7:00 P.M. in Chandler. On Saturday, the Cardinals of Wesleyan come to Williamstown for the second match up of the season between the Little Three rivals. Williams won the first game 75-66 in January. The game is set to begin at 7:30 in Chandler.