Men’s basketball rounded out 2010 and headed into 2011 with a series of victories over Tufts on Saturday, Bates on Friday, Elms on Jan. 3, Westfield State on Jan. 2, Salem State on Dec. 30, North Park on Dec. 29 and Springfield on Dec. 11. The team has lost only once, to Amherst on Jan. 8.
The men benefited from several impressive performances as the Ephs trounced the Jumbos on Saturday, improving their record to 15-1 (2-0 in the NESCAC). Tri-captain Troy Whittington ’11 scored 15 points, James Klemm ’13 scored 13 and Taylor Epley ’14 added 10 to the Ephs’ victory. Williams’ impenetrable defense held Tufts to 33.9 percent shooting overall, while shooting at a 51.8 percent clip. Whittington, the team leader in blocked shots and rebounds, came off the bench in his second game back from injury.
“Two of the big reasons we lost to Amherst were because we allowed too many offensive rebounds and lost too many 50/50 balls. Bates and Tufts are two physical teams … so we had to take the lessons from the Amherst game and use them to get two tough road wins,” said tri-captain Harlan Dodson ’11.
The men also took to the court on Friday, defeating Bates by a score of 68-50 on the strength of their lockdown defense. Whittington mustered 14 points, 10 rebounds and three blocks, while tri-captain James Wang ’12 hit three of four three-point attempts and led the Ephs with 23 points. Point guard Nate Robertson ’13 chipped in with five assists and seven rebounds. The Bobcats hit only 16 of 58 shot attempts, and their 62.5 percent free throw shooting was indicative of Bates’ struggle. Notably, the Ephs held all of the Bobcats except Brian Ellis to under eight points.
Williams fell to rival Amherst’s hoops team on Jan. 8. Despite Wang’s 27-point effort, Williams lost 92-89 in overtime. The Ephs were unable to come away with a victory without their leading rebounder, as Whittington was unavailable due to injury.
“You don’t replace Troy with just one guy, he’s too good for that. The entire team has to step up,” said Dodson.
Rookies Hayden Rooke-Ley ’14 and Epley did just that, contributing seven and six boards respectively. “The rookies have been playing great. Both Taylor and Hayden have contributed in a big way since the start of the season. They’ve both taken the time to learn our system by spending extra time coming in and watching film with the coaches,” Wang said.
Robertson scored 19 points, Dodson contributed 12 and Klemm tallied 10 more. The Ephs’ effort was hurt by uncharacteristically poor free throw shooting, as the squad managed to shoot only 58.8 percent from the line in the loss.
Elms was the team’s victim on Jan. 3, as the men cruised to an 82-65 victory. The Ephs came on strong to record a 48-point first half over the Blazers. Wang scored 13 points, collecting six rebounds and six assists, while center Brian Emerson ’12 contributed 11 points and five rebounds. Robertson compiled five assists and Michael Mayer ’14 added eight points and eight rebounds off the bench. As usual, the Ephs’ defense was ferocious, limiting the Blazers to a 30 percent shot completion in the first half, at the end of which the game was essentially decided in Williams’ favor.
Westfield State proved no match for Williams on Jan. 2, as the Ephs triumphed 80-62. Wang, the Ephs top overall scorer, led the Ephs with 22 points, six rebounds and five assists. Robertson pulled down seven rebounds, recorded seven assists and added three steals. Klemm scored 15 points, while Epley snagged 14.
The men netted two wins at the Salem State Holiday Classic over North Park and host Salem State on Dec. 29 and 30, respectively. Williams put on an offensive clinic against North Park, receiving contributions from 10 different players to score an 85-54 victory. Salem State fared no better, as Klemm pounced for 31 points and led the men to a 93-60 win. Wang was awarded tournament MVP honors after totaling 36 points and 12 rebounds in two games.
The men also tallied a win over Springfield on Dec. 11, notching their ninth win in a comeback victory. The Ephs trailed the Pride 35-34 at the half, but Whittington catapulted the Ephs to a second-half win with his double-double. Whittington, who leads the team in rebounds, finished the game with 27 points and 10 rebounds, as Williams buried Springfield 83-60.
The team’s busy schedule continues with home games against Conn. College at 6 p.m. on Friday and Wesleyan at 2 p.m. on Saturday. The men will then take their second-ranked offense on the road to Skidmore for a 7 p.m. tip-off on Tuesday night.