Men’s hoops stays hot, shuts down Vassar

Led by tri-captain James Wang ’12 and ferocious center and tri-captain Troy Whittington ’11, men’s basketball (7-0, 0-0 in the NESCAC) has been unbeatable thus far in the 2010-11 season. Williams has averaged over 87 points a game, limiting its opponents to a composite 35 percent shooting percentage and only seven assists per contest on average. The young team has exceeded expectations thanks to a deep bench and the emergence of guard James Klemm ’13 as a three-point specialist. The Ephs are now ranked fifth in the Div. III top 25 by D3Hoops.com.

On Saturday, the team traveled to Poughkeepsie, N.Y. to take on the Vassar squad. Williams put on a defensive clinic for the reported 223 fans that attended the game, allowing Vassar to shoot only a dismal 24 percent from the field. The Ephs’ high-scoring trifecta of Whittington, NESCAC Player of the Week Wang and Klemm combined for 39 points, while each pulled down five rebounds. Forward Michael Mayer ’14 came off the bench to score 15 points and grab four boards, and fellow rookie Hayden Rooke-Ley ’14 contributed 10 points, eight rebounds and four assists in 25 minutes. Williams registered a season-high 58 rebounds as a team. “The first-year class continues to get better and better,” Head Coach Mike Maker said. “We’ll need their contributions as the year progresses.”

In their Thursday night match-up against St. Joseph’s, the team enjoyed its widest margin of victory on the season thus far, burying the Eagles 102-56. Led by Whittington’s 19 points, nine rebounds and four blocks, the men out-rebounded St. Joseph’s 55-37 and limited the Eagles to only three assists. Williams showed its depth more so than in any other game, as six non-starters registered at least four rebounds. Wang and Klemm each contributed 17 points.

Williams beat RPI 89-73 on Nov. 30 thanks to a huge game by Wang. The junior hit eight three-pointers, finishing with 29 points, and also grabbed nine rebounds and dished out seven assists. Whittington and Klemm were the only other Ephs scoring double-digits, 19 and 14 points, respectively. Williams outscored RPI 44-33 in the first half and never looked back, shooting over 60 percent for the game.

Williams’ contest against MCLA earlier that weekend saw a 96-60 result. It became clear after the first five minutes of the game that MCLA was simply no match for Williams. Wang scored 23, and Whittington and Klemm added 13 and 14 respectively. Nate Robertson ’13 had his best game of the season, scoring 14 points and racking seven rebounds.

In its game against Wesleyan on Nov. 23, Williams came from behind to snatch an 80-76 victory. After being outscored 40-37 in the first half, the Ephs began the second half on a run to give them the lead, ultimately successfully holding off the Cardinals. The two teams alternated buckets for most of the way. Whittington again put up spectacular numbers – 22 points, 13 boards and a whopping six blocked shots. Wang added 21 points, while Klemm scored 19, 15 of those on three-point shots, emerging as yet another scoring threat for the Ephs. The 76 points given up by the men during the course of the contest is the most they have allowed in any game this season.

“The Wesleyan game was a great road win against a Little Three rival,” said tri-captain Harlan Dodson ’11. “We got down 14 in the first half, withstood a lot of runs from a very talented team and hit some big shots late to get the win.”

The men dropped Regis College 58-48 earlier that same week. The difference in the Nov. 20 game was free throws, as both sides were often stifled by the other’s defense. Wang led the way with 17 points, going eight-for-eight on free throws and tallying four assists. Whittington contributed 13 points and 11 rebounds in a game in which the Ephs shot a season-low 37 percent from the field.

In the season opener against Southern Vermont on Nov. 19, the men dominated all 48 minutes, winning 97-65. Whittington led all players in scoring, rebounds, assists and blocks with 19 points, nine boards, six assists and two rejections. Also stepping up for the Ephs was forward-center Brian Emerson ’12, who added 15 points and nine rebounds. Williams won the rebounding battle 57-46 and tallied 13 more assists than the opposition.

The men faced off against Hamilton last night, but results came in too late to report. The team will travel to Springfield for a 1 p.m. game on Saturday before competing in the Salem State Holiday Classic Dec. 28-29. Williams will then host the Purple and Gold Invitational to kick off January with a 5 p.m. game against Westfield State Jan. 2.

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