Men’s basketball (20-2, 8-0 in the NESCAC) survived a 76-64 overtime thriller against Bowdoin to maintain a perfect conference record on Saturday. The victory came after the men reeled off three straight victories, which kept them at No. 7 in the Div. III standings. Williams met its match at Amherst, however, dropping the game against the rival Jeffs 83-67 despite a strong first half push. Prior to the loss to Amherst, the men had an 11-game win streak.
On Saturday, Bowdoin took the men to overtime in a tightly contested game. From the first minutes of the game, it was clear that the two teams were evenly matched. Taylor Epley ’14 sparked the men’s offense, but Bowdoin kept pace, briefly taking a 22-19 lead with 7:28 remaining in the first before Epley sank back-to-back threes to give the men a 25-22 advantage. The Ephs fought back from a 34-30 deficit with 2:31 to play before the break with a couple of layups from co-captain Nate Robertson ’13 and Epley to end the half in a 34-34 tie.
Back from the half, co-captain James Klemm ’13 sank a three and Michael Mayer ’14 hit a jumper and a three en route to a run that put the Ephs up 49-40 under seven minutes into the half. The Polar Bears refused to go down quietly, sinking a pair of threes and slowly narrowing their deficit to 49-48 at 11 minutes. As time wound down in the second, Bowdoin gained a slight advantage on a layup, earning a 61-58 lead with 2:31 to play. Klemm hit a clutch shot from behind the arc to tie the game at 61-61 with 2:14 on the clock, but neither team sank another shot in regulation, sending the game to overtime.
The Polar Bears opened overtime with a quick three, but it was all Ephs from there on out. Daniel Wohl ’15 netted a pair of free throws before Robertson hit a three. The Polar Bears made just one basket in overtime, allowing the Ephs to storm to a 76-64 overtime victory. Mayer had a double-double in the game, scoring 22 points and grabbing 11 boards.
Colby opened Friday’s game with a statement three just 12 seconds into the game. Down 5-0 early, the Ephs responded with a 12-1 run to grab a 12-6 advantage with 14:31 in the first. The Mules retaliated, tightening the score to 12-11 in the Ephs’ favor. Play continued to go back and forth until Colby built a 31-26 lead with 3:21 in the half. Wohl and Epley reduced the lead to 34-33 with a little over one minute to play, but Colby escaped the first half with a 38-35 edge.
The opening five minutes of the second passed quietly, but a pair of free throws from Mayer and a layup from Wohl tied the game at 40-40 at 14:58. With just under eight to play, Klemm made a key shot from behind the arc to establish a 52-47 lead for Williams. The men continued to find the crucial layups they needed to maintain a slight advantage heading into the final minutes of play. Williams held a slim 62-60 lead with 30 seconds to play courtesy of an Epley layup, but a foul gave Colby a chance to eliminate the deficit. After sinking his first shot, Mule Patrick Stewart missed on his second shot from behind the line, allowing the Ephs to keep a 62-61 lead and forcing the Mules to foul with four seconds left. Wohl stepped to the line and sank both shots, ending the game with a 64-61 win for Williams.
“The NESCAC is stronger than ever this season,” Klemm said. “It is so tough to beat the teams in our league, especially on the road.”
At Southern Vermont on Jan. 29, the men rode a 45-24 halftime lead to a 93-45 victory. Mayer had a phenomenal game with 22 points and 12 rebounds.
On Jan. 26, the men notched a key 64-63 victory over Middlebury. The conference win over Middlebury came on the heels of a disappointing 83-67 loss to Amherst on Jan. 23 despite a strong first half from the men. Williams also topped Hamilton 67-59 in a conference matchup on Jan. 20 and defeated Lyndon State 90-59 on Jan. 15.
The men will get another look at their rival on Friday when they host Amherst at 6 p.m. They will finish the regular season at home at 2 p.m. against Trinity on Saturday.