Men’s basketball overpowers NESCAC rivals

No. 18 men’s basketball (14-1, 4-0 in the NESCAC) crushed Conn. College 96-63 on Saturday and dispatched Wesleyan 74-65 on Friday. Prior to last weekend’s games, the men took care of Bates on Jan. 5 and Tufts on Jan. 4 to open conference play. The team cleaned up in California over the break, topping Luther and California Lutheran. Prior to the break, the men bested Springfield 84-69 on Dec. 8.

In Saturday’s game against Conn. College, the men tore off a 16-0 run to open the game with a bang, with Michael Mayer ’14 scoring less than 10 seconds into the game. The lead lasted much of the first half, as co-captain Nate Robertson ’

13 netted a pair of free throws to maintain the men’s 24-6 lead halfway through the opening period. The Ephs’ bench kept the game out of reach for the Camels, and the men cruised to a 42-26 lead at halftime.

The Camels attempted to come back in the second half, but Taylor Epley ’14 kept them at bay by scoring 17 points. “Both Taylor and [co-captain] James [Klemm ’13] have unbelievable shooting percentages from behind the arc,” Robertson said. “That allows Taylor to work both inside and out, and that’s really made him a powerful guard.”

The men played well both offensively and defensively, earning them their 96-63 victory. The Ephs shot 53.7 percent and held the Camels to 37.1-percent shooting. Epley led the team with 27 points, and Danny Wohl ’15 put in a strong effort with 10 points and eight boards.

On Friday, the men hosted Wesleyan, and the Cardinals came out firing with an 8-0 run. Klemm got the Ephs on the board with a pair of threes to tighten the score to 11-6. The Cardinals extended their lead, however, eventually going up 30-13 on a long ball. The Ephs then tore off a 20-0 run to close out the half, snaring a 35-30 lead at the end of the half.

“Wesleyan came out physical and shooting well,” Robertson said. “Once they cooled down, we focused on chipping away at the lead one play at a time.”

The men opened the half with a bang: Robertson stole the ball on the first play to set up a shot from behind the arc for Wohl, bringing the score to 38-30. Wohl banked three long balls in the first four minutes to widen the men’s lead to 46-39.

The Cardinals stole a 52-50 lead with 10 minutes to play, but Mayer and Epley both made a pair of shots to reclaim a 58-52 advantage. Epley made back-to-back threes with about a minute to play, sealing up a 74-65 win for Williams. The Ephs shot at a 51.9-percent clip, while the Cardinals managed only 37.5-percent shooting. Epley and Klemm each had 21 points, and Mayer led the team with six boards.

Williams topped Bates 80-60 on Jan. 5, riding an expansive first-half lead to victory. Epley had 30 points in the contest, and Wohl netted 11 points and eight rebounds. In their opening conference game on Jan. 4, the men edged Tufts 83-68. Mayer had a double-double in the game, netting 24 points and grabbing 13 boards. The men shot almost 70 percent against Tufts.

Over the break, the men dispatched California Lutheran 71-53 on Dec. 30 and Luther 78-72 in overtime on Dec. 29. The men also beat Springfield 84-69 on Dec. 8 before the break.

The men played Lyndon State at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, but results came in too late to report. Williams will next challenge Hamilton in New York on Sunday. Tip-off will be at 2 p.m.

“We now have four conference wins, so we have a bit of momentum,” Robertson said. “We have to focus on Lyndon State and Hamilton, who will be tough, before focusing on even bigger weekends. We’re trying to take it one game at a time.”