Ephs rebound from tough loss to Cardinals to trounce Camels

No. 15 men’s basketball (13-3, 2-2 in the NESCAC) split its games last weekend, conquering Conn. College 71-50 on Saturday after falling to Wesleyan 66-43 on Friday. On Jan. 7, the men defeated Bates 67-47, coming off an 80-71 loss to Tufts on Jan. 6. Williams put on an offensive clinic against Castleton on Jan. 2, taking a 107-82 victory. Over the break, the men earned a last-second victory at the Thomas More tournament in the championship game against the host team on Dec. 29. They reached the championship game after defeating Ohio Northern 79-73 on Dec. 28. Before winter break, the men topped Springfield 68-57 on Dec. 10.

The men held onto the lead over Conn. College for most of Saturday’s game, taking an early lead less than five minutes into the first when James Klemm ’13 drained a shot from behind the arc. The Camels then grabbed a 22-21 lead with 7:23 to play in the first. Klemm subsequently sunk a field goal with an assist from tri-captain James Wang ’12 and capitalized on a Camel turnover with a three to give the Ephs a 26-22 lead. The men carried a 33-28 lead into the half on the strength of Klemm’s play.

“[Klemm] attracts a lot of attention from the defenders,” Wang said. “When they have to key in on him and he gets going, it makes it easier on everyone [because] the defense gives us more space.”

Conn. College made it a game, pulling within three early in the second, but Williams put the game out of reach with an astonishing 22-0 run, taking a 64-39 lead. Klemm finalized the run with yet another three, punctuating an impressive day for the junior guard. He had 19 points, five threes, eight rebounds, three assists and two steals in the victory.

The men’s well-rounded performance against Conn. College came after a 66-43 loss to Wesleyan on Friday. Wang emphasized the difficulty of rebounding from a loss. “Considering our past successes, it was tough,” he said. “It’s not easy, but we have to get back to our core principles and playing together as a team.”

The Ephs played the Cardinals tightly in the first half, taking a 17-12 lead off a three from Klemm halfway through the first. Wesleyan found another gear, however, taking a 23-22 lead with just over five minutes to play in the first half. The Ephs scored only four points before the break, allowing the Cardinals to take a 42-26 halftime lead.

After the break, Williams continued its struggle to score, notching just 17 points in the half and shooting an abysmal 19 percent in the second. Wesleyan took advantage of the men’s miscues, claiming a 66-43 victory. The men were hampered by 18 turnovers, and only Michael Mayer ’14 scored in double digits, recording 11 points. Parker Semin ’15 led the team with five rebounds. The Cardinals shot 45 percent, while the Ephs managed only 31-percent shooting.

The men turned in a solid game against Bates on Jan. 7, disposing of the Bobcats 67-47. The first half was hotly contested. Bates leapt out to an 8-0 lead, but the men knotted the game back at 8-8 on a field goal from Mayer. The Bobcats then took a 15-10 lead with about 10 to play in the half before Mayer stepped up with five straight points to tie the score at 15-15. Klemm sunk a three with five minutes left in the half to give Williams a 20-19 lead, but Bates regained the advantage to go to the break with a 31-29 lead.

The Ephs stepped up their game from behind the arc in the second and turned in gritty defensive play to hold the Bobcats at bay. Tri-captain Brian Emerson ’12 sunk four free throws and Taylor Epley ’14 made a lay-up to take a 47-37 lead with 10 to play. A three from Hayden Rooke-Ley ’14 finished the Bobcats off, and the Ephs sent them packing 67-47.

Williams had three players in double digits. Nate Robertson ’13 and Klemm each netted 12 points, while Mayer snared 11. Robertson played a two-way game, also grabbing five boards and making two steals and two blocks.

On Jan. 6, Tufts scored an 80-71 upset over the men in their first conference game. The Jumbos and Ephs exchanged baskets in the first, but Tufts had a narrow 32-31 lead at the half. Williams struggled from behind the arc in the first, going 0-6 while Tufts sank a pair of threes. Tufts shot 44.4 percent in the first, while Williams shot 41.7 percent.

The Jumbos slowly built up their lead in the second, and despite strong efforts from Mayer and Rooke-Ley, the Ephs could not mount a comeback. Tufts opened a 65-47 lead with 8:29 left. The Ephs made it a game, but time ran out before they could regain the lead. The Jumbos took an 80-71 win.

The men’s conference play came after a 107-82 victory over Castleton on Jan. 2. After topping Ohio Northern 79-73 on Dec. 28 in the Thomas More Tournament, the men won the championship game with a 66-64 victory over Thomas More on Dec. 29. The Ephs earned the win when Wang made three free-throws with 0.5 to play. The men also beat Springfield 68-57 on Dec. 10.

The men will host Skidmore on Thursday at 7 p.m. They will then take on Hamilton on Sunday at 4 p.m.