Men’s basketball (13-2, 3-1 in the NESCAC) stormed into conference play with victories over Colby, Bowdoin, Trinity and a tough road loss to Amherst. The men were on a tear in the month of December, notching five victories and opening 2014 with a 70-68 victory over Hampton-Sydney.
On Saturday, the men faced a feisty squad from Colby that stuck with them throughout the game. However, a massive 27 points from rookie Duncan Robinson ’17 on nine for nine shooting proved too much for the Mules. Colby looked dangerous in the opening minutes, taking a 12-8 lead less than five minutes into the game. The Ephs stayed with the Mules, however, and crashed the boards hard to give the offense some opportunities. Tri-captains Michael Mayer ’14 and John Weinheimer ’14 each made field goals to keep the men within four at 16-12, and Hayden Rooke-Ley ’15 drilled a jumper for three to put the Ephs down just 19-15 with 9:55 left in the first. Robinson then drained a shot for three, and after grabbing the defensive rebound and drawing a foul, Rooke-Ley tied the game on a free throw. In the final eight minutes of the half, Robinson caught fire, scoring 10 points to close out the half, putting the men up 35-30.
The Mules kept the game close in the opening minutes of the second, but by seven minutes in, Rooke-Ley drained a three that put the Ephs up 49-39. Mayer kept his team on top, notching a few key baskets as Colby threatened around the 10-minute mark. Mike Greenman ’17 sank a pretty three to give the men
a 62-55 advantage as the clock wound down to less than five minutes remaining in the contest. The men sank a couple shots from the line, establishing a 67-60 lead before a layup from Colby cut that lead to 67-62. With 15 seconds left, Daniel Wohl ’15 launched the ball up the court to Robinson, who punctuated a clean victory with a dunk, ending the game with the Ephs up 69-62.
Robinson led the team with 27 points, playing 37 minutes and going nine for nine in field goals. Mayer led the Ephs with nine boards; he also scored 15 points.
On Friday, Bowdoin entered Chandler Gymnasium undefeated, but the men were game for the challenge. The Ephs got on the board first, and Rooke-Ley established a 7-3 lead with an early long ball. However, the Polar Bears quickly clawed back to take a 9-7 advantage. Weinheimer got the men started on a nine-point run with a dunk after a steal by Matt McCreary ’14, tying the game at nine all. Robinson drained a three and Mayer got in on the action to put the men up 18-9. Bowdoin countered and scored seven straight to narrow the margin to 18-16 with five to play in the half, but Robinson sank three straight shots for three for the Ephs and Rooke-Ley drilled another long ball to give the men a hard-fought 30-27 lead at the break.
The men dominated the three-point arc in the second half, draining four threes en route to a 50-37 edge at 12:32. Mayer then scored eight straight points for the Ephs, to keep the Polar Bears at bay. After a dunk by Wohl, Bowdoin was getting uncomfortably close until Robinson drilled his seventh three of the night to give the men a 63-56 lead at 3:50. Bowdoin responded with two straight long balls, and the men saw their lead shrink to 65-64 after Wohl got called for a foul. The Polar Bears tried a three that wouldn’t go and fouled Mayer with 15 seconds on the clock. Mayer was good from the line, and the men made enough of their free throws to close out the game with a 69-64 victory, ending Bowdoin’s tenure as one of only two undefeated NESCAC teams.
Mayer led the team with 26 points and nine boards. Robinson was right on his heels with 24 points, going seven for ten in three-point shooting.
On Jan. 11 at Amherst, Williams suffered its second loss of the season, struggling to contain an explosive Amherst offense that put up 84 points. The Ephs were powerless to stop Jeffs’ Connor Green and Tom Killian in the first half, as Green notched 16 points and Killian was good for 13. The result was an ultimately insurmountable 44-35 deficit at the half. Amherst came out of the break hot, establishing a 57-40 lead in less than five minutes. The Ephs went on a six-point run to get within nine, but Jeff Connor Gach drained a three to keep the Ephs down. With six to play, Epley sank a three, but Jeff Aaron Toomey responded in kind. With 1:14 to go, Robinson hit a shot from behind the arc, but down seven, the men were forced to foul, and Amherst closed out an 84-73 win. “Our conference is as strong as it has been since I have been here and that makes for a lot of potentially close games,” said Mayer. “We have to come to play everyday because any team can beat us at any time.
On Jan. 10, the men trounced Trinity 80-60, with Epley scorching the court for 19 points. The men topped Hampden-Sydney with a narrow 70-68 win on Jan. 2. At the Washington and Lee Holiday Tournament, the men topped Washington College 84-76 on Dec. 29 before defeating Washington and Lee on 60-58 on Dec. 30. The men closed out the fall semester with wins over Springfield, RPI, MCLA, Curry and Wesleyan.
The men will next get a second look at Amherst on Wednesday at 8 p.m. in Chandler. They will then host Hamilton at 8 p.m. on Saturday.