The Williams College Men’s basketball team ended their season on Sunday, going out as champions at the Eastern College Athletic Conference Division III New England Tournament. The squad, which finished with a 20-6 overall record, beat host Plymouth State (NH) in the finals by the score of 103-88. In the process of winning the title, head Coach Harry Sheehy became the all-time winningest coach in Williams history, passing Al Shaw with his 303rd career win.
Williams was led by the tandem of seniors Matt Hunt and Mike Holland. The two combined for 57 points, including 30 made free throws, to propel the Ephs to victory. Holland, who was chosen as the tournament’s MVP, followed up a 12 point and eight rebound performance in Williams’ semifinal win over Colby with 25 points and 11 rebounds in the championship game. Holland was 7 of 11 from the field and 11 of 12 from the free throw line. Hunt had a game-high 32 points, as he made 19 of his 20 tries from the line.
Plymouth was paced by senior Josh Farnsworth, who had 24 points on seven of nine shooting, including six threes. Adam DeChristopher, who had 37 points in Friday’s victory over Amherst, was held to 18 in 34 minutes of play. DeChristopher chipped in six rebounds and six points for the Panthers.
Williams jumped out to an early lead and maintained it for most of the game’s first twelve minutes, but the Panthers got hot from the field and took a 45-42 lead into half-time. Plymouth upped its lead to eight points at the midway point of the second. The Ephs responded, though, going on a 13 point run which put Williams up 78-73 at the 6:23 mark. In the game’s final few minutes, Williams made 13 straight foul shots and 19 of 20 to seal the win.
“We had a real gutsy performance,” said Williams head coach Harry Sheehy. “That was a real good team we faced. We were on the ropes a lot in the second half, but around the ten minute mark they started to miss a few shots and we started to make some. We played with composure, and we had the right guys at the line.”
Sheehy also pointed to his team’s improved rebounding in the second half as a key to victory. “They annihilated us on the boards in the first half,” he said, regarding Plymouth’s 21-13 rebounding edge in the first half. “We did a better job in the second half, and that was a big difference.” Williams’ 26-15 advantage in the second gave them a 39-36 lead on the afternoon.
Williams senior Jim Frew had only eight points in the final game of his career, but his nine assists and 10 boards helped carry the team. Sean Keenan ’00 and Jim Sheehy ’00 contributed 13 apiece for the Ephs, while Dan Dickens ’01 came off of the bench to toss in 12.
In the ECAC semifinal, Williams beat Colby College 78-66 to advance to the finals. Colby came out on fire in the first half, shooting at around a 70 percent clip for the game’s first 10 minutes. James Spidle scored seven points in the early going to send the Mules out to a quick five point lead. Williams never allowed Colby to extend its lead, though, as the Ephs made shots and buckled down on defense to bring the game to a tie. In the final two minutes of the first period, Williams’ Sheehy hit two consecutive jumpers to knot the score at 35 at the half.
The two teams battled fiercely as the second period began. The lead changed hands eight times in the first five minutes of the half as the squads traded jump shots. A three pointer by Hunt at the 12:40 mark gave Williams the lead for good. Though Colby climbed to within four points on a Zeb Davis three pointer with three minutes to go, Hunt hit another three and was fouled. The made free throw gave Williams an insurmountable eight point lead.
Hunt was spectacular for the Ephs. He scored 30 points on 8/13 shooting from the field, including two four-point plays on the night. Sheehy hit for 14 from the point and Holland added 12 points and eight rebounds down low. Dickens came off of the bench to contribute a double-double of 11 points and 11 boards. Jim Frew had five points and his two assists give him 132 on the season, setting a Williams single-season mark. Frew broke Noah Clarke’s ’95 record of 131.
Earlier in the week, Williams defeated Colby-Sawyer by the score of 90-63 in its ECAC opener. Holland was unstoppable underneath for Williams as he finished with 25 points on 9 of 11 shooting. He completed his double-double with 10 rebounds. Hunt tallied 21 and Frew 17 on the game. Frew also added seven assists and seven boards
The 20 wins for Williams marks the seventh consecutive 20 win season for the team. The ECAC championship is the second for the Ephs, who won it for the first time in 1987.