Men’s basketball throttles Bowdoin, Colby

Men’s basketball (21-1, 7-0 in the NESCAC) followed up an 82-58 win over then-25th ranked Colby on Friday with a dominant performance against Bowdoin on Saturday, when the no. 2 Ephs celebrated Senior Day by trouncing the Polar Bears 97-54.

Bowdoin came into Saturday having won three of its last four contests against Williams. This year, however, the Polar Bears had no answer to the Ephs’ offense. The Ephs attacked from all areas of the court, dominating from behind the three-point line as well as down low. They finished the first half with a 68 percent field goal percentage, making 69 percent of their three-point shots. The team shot 59 percent overall on the day.

Co-captain Blake Schultz ’10 set the tone early against Bowdoin, scoring 11 of the first 16 Williams points. He finished the day with 26 points in his 22 minutes on the floor. He made 10 of his 13 shots and went 6-6 from behind the three-point line. Schultz has scored 1330 points and collected 505 rebounds this season, and is 61 points and five rebounds away, respectively, from 10th on both Eph all-time lists.

Each of the Ephs’ six seniors scored during the game. William Hardy ’10 and co-captain Joe Geoghegan ’10 each dropped four points, Mike Moorstein ’10 hit a three in the fourth quarter, while Will Hardy ’10, Ethan Timmins-Schiffman ’10 and Charlie Cates ’10 added two apiece. Geoghegan, with 678 rebounds, needs just six more to become no. 5 on Williams’ all-time rebounding list. Meanwhile, James Wang ’12 and Brian Emerson ’12 scored 12 and 11 points respectively on the night to join Schultz as the three Ephs in double figures.

The Ephs did not rely solely on their offense, however. Strong Williams defense held Bowdoin to just 38 percent shooting. Paul Sellew, who had 13 points, was the only Polar Bear to score in the double digits. Cates led the Ephs with two blocks, which came within just seconds of each other. The crowd erupted after the strong, back-to-back defensive sequence, which ended with Cates denying a Bowdoin player’s shot with both hands.

Friday night’s game against Colby played out in a similar fashion. With both teams undefeated in conference, the stakes were high as the Ephs and Mules battled for the top spot in the NESCAC standings. The Ephs dominated offensively, with five players scoring in double figures. Nate Robertson ’13 and Troy Whittington ’11 led the team in scoring with 14 points apiece, while Wang and Harlan Dodson ’11 added 11 and 12 points respectively. Wang, Whittington and Geoghegan grabbed six, seven, and eight rebounds respectively. The Ephs were also strong defensively, stealing the ball 10 times and allowing only one Colby player, Adam Choice, to score in doubles figures. Choice is the second leading scorer in the conference behind Schultz, who is averaging 19 points per game.

The wins against Colby and Bowdoin make the Ephs 21-1 on the year and 7-0 against NESCAC competition, in a solid first position as postseason play approaches.

Schultz commented on the emotional nature of the Bowdoin game: “Senior Day brought on some mixed emotions,” he said. “It is always awesome to play in front of our friends and family at home but it is definitely sad to think that this could be our last home game. It gives us some extra incentive to take care of business in our next couple games and get home games in the NESCAC tourney.”

Rather than focusing on his own performance, Schultz discussed the team play that has made the Ephs so phenomenally effective this year. “I think we have been doing well lately because of how unselfishly everyone is playing,” he said. “We are making the extra pass on offense and tightening up on defense.”

Head Coach Mike Maker struck a similar chord in regards to team play, especially stressing the significance of Senior Day in honoring the team’s leaders. “It was very emotional for everyone because of the type of people they are,” Maker said. “The entire team was very happy to get a win in our final regular season game in Chandler. For all of the seniors to score was special. They all contributed.”

Maker also stressed the importance of the Ephs’ team-oriented style of play. When asked about the keys to continued success going forward, Maker emphasized team chemistry and the team’s all-for-one philosophy. “Everyone puts the team first which helps us on the court,” he said. Maker also noted the importance of a continued comprehensive focus on all aspects of play. “The team mindset is key,” he explained. “We must maintain a defensive mindset. Offensive efficiency will also continue to be important.”

The men can go into their last games of the regular season confident, especially because of their recent No. 2 national ranking. Williams’ success has not gone unnoticed on the national level, as the second-ranked Ephs began the season unranked and received their first number one vote of the year this past week.

Williams also puts NESCAC rivals to shame statistically: with a 21.4 scoring margin, 52.3% shooting percentage and an average of 87.4 points per game, the Ephs are safe in their No. 1 NESCAC standings. Their scoring margin and shooting percentage also top the national rankings.

Individually, Wang and Whittington are just behind their teammate and conference scoring leader Schultz. Wang is averaging 16 points per game, while Whittington is third on the team with 11.5 points per game. Wang is also second in the NESCAC with his 4.64 assists per game benchmark statistic.

Next on the schedule for the men is an 8 p.m. matchup on Friday at Amherst. The Ephs head into the game with a 12-game winning streak, while the rival Jeffs are 14-7 on the year and have lost their past four NESCAC games.

Williams hopes to defeat Amherst for the second time this season. The Ephs were victorious in their previous matchup at home on Jan. 9, claiming a 72-69 victory through a combination of strong offense and killer defense.

After the Amherst game, Williams will close out the regular season at Trinity at 4 p.m. on Saturday. The men will then have a NESCAC quarterfinal home game on Feb. 20, with their sights set on adding to the year’s success with a NESCAC tournament championship and, eventually, a strong run in NCAAs.