Men’s basketball (1-1) rebounded from an upset loss to Southern Vermont in its season opener with a 106-80 pounding of Salem State last Saturday in the men’s first game in Chandler.
Saturday’s game was tight from the jump, with the teams neck-and-neck for most of the first half. Daniel Wohl ’15 gave the Ephs’ a 15-10 lead with a layup at 13:39, but the Vikings struck back with a shot from behind the line, keeping on the Ephs’ backs well into the first half. The men finally established some distance with two consecutive threes from Ryan Kilcullen ’15; they took a 49-41 lead with 1:39 left in the half. Duncan Robinson ’17 then nailed a couple shots from the line, putting the Ephs up 51-41 heading to the half.
The Ephs distanced themselves early in the second half and never looked back. Tri-captain Taylor Epley ’14 had a pair of threes just three minutes into the period. A three by Wohl at 14:23 put the Ephs up by 21 points. Salem State had no response for the men, missing shots and letting Williams cut through its defense. The Ephs’ lead hit 31 points with two minutes remaining, after they sunk a pair of shots at the line. With the bench in, the men concluded the game with a resounding 106-80 victory.
“Our team tries to stay process-driven and remain in the moment throughout the season,” tri-captain Michael Mayer ’14 said. “While Friday’s loss certainly hurt, we learned our lessons from that game that night and turned our attention to the game versus Salem State.”
Mayer snared the tipoff in Friday’s opener, but Southern Vermont raced out to a 7-0 lead after the men missed several field goals. The Ephs slowly chipped away at the lead, with Robinson getting them on the board with a layup. Wohl then took control of the offense, scoring eight straight points to give his team a 15-9 lead with 16:33 on the clock. The Mountaineers clawed back into the game halfway through the first and eventually took a slim margin in the final five minutes of the first. After a three-point jumper by Mountaineer Travis Severs, the Ephs were down 45-40 with three on the clock. A foul by Robinson gave Southern Vermont a 46-40 edge, but Wohl battled for his own rebound after a missed shot from the arc and salvaged two points. The men went to the break trailing 46-42.
Despite the deficit, the Ephs burst out of the locker room to take command of the second half. Robinson swished back-to-back threes to knot the game at 54-54 just three minutes into the second. The men settled in on both sides of the ball, but things heated up again in the final 10 minutes of the half. With the starting five in, the offense built up an 80-71 lead that looked stable with just four on the clock. The Mountaineers didn’t back down, however, pounding the floor to scratch their way into an 83-80 deficit. The refs began to take over in the final minutes of the game, and both teams suffered from questionable calls, moving the game to the free throw line. Hayden Rooke-Ley ’15 sunk a pair from the line to give the men a tenuous 86-81 lead with a minute to play, but Southern Vermont scored four straight points to put the game in an even more precarious situation. An egregious foul call on Rooke-Ley gave Mountaineer Deshawn Hamlet two shots at the line, and he made good on both to give his team an 88-87 lead. Williams took a timeout, but Wohl’s inbound arced into the ceiling of the gym, turning the ball over to Southern Vermont. After the Mountaineers missed the foul shot, the ball bounced off a Mountaineer’s leg and gave the Ephs one last chance. However, Wohls’ throw-in again hit the ceiling, and the game ended in a disappointing 88-87 loss for the men.
“Defensively, we need to make sure we stay solid as a unit by helping out our teammates, while at the same time taking more pride in guarding the basketball individually,” Mayer said.
The men will next take on St. Joseph’s at 7 p.m. tonight before challenging Wesleyan at home at 4 p.m. on Saturday. They will also get a look at Curry on Tuesday at 7:30 p.m.