Men’s hoops downs two conf. foes for 9-1 record

Men’s basketball (21-3, 9-1 in the NESCAC) won nine straight games to close out the regular season. The men dismantled Wesleyan 87-70 last Saturday after stifling Conn. College 98-90 on Friday in conference play. The men will enter the NESCAC tournament as the No. 2 seed.

Saturday’s game against Wesleyan was decided quickly, as Ryan Kilcullen ’15 drained a three at 15:22 in the first to give the men an 8-6 edge, and Wesleyan never regained the lead. Mike Greenman ’17 followed Kilcullen’s basket with a three of his own, and the men never looked back. Wesleyan looked poised to make a comeback when Jack Mackey hit three straight shots for eight points to knot the game at 14-14, but tri-captain Michael Mayer ’14 hit a jumper, and tri-captain Taylor Epley ’14 continued an explosive night with two long-balls to reestablish a 22-16 edge with 8:43 on the clock. The Ephs broke an 8-0 run with under five to play in the first, and Greenman hit a three to send the men into the break riding 42-32 lead.

Wesleyan was buried for most of the second half as the men racked up a 17-point lead less than three minutes after play resumed. Midway through the second, however, Wesleyan sank five three-pointers, cutting Williams’ lead to 63-52 with 10 to play, but that was as close as the game got. The Ephs’ offense stayed strong to close out the game with an 87-70 victory in the final game of the regular season.

Epley led the Ephs with 28 points, while Daniel Wohl ’15 hit the boards hardest, grabbing seven rebounds. Williams shot 50.8 percent and 47.8 percent from the three-point line while holding Wesleyan to a less robust 44.1-percent shooting, 37.9 percent from behind the arc.

The men’s offense put on a clinic against Conn. College on Friday, taking no prisoners on the road in New London, Conn. The Camels kept play tight in the opening minutes, but after Mayer blocked a jump shot, he snared the rebound and hit a jumper to give the Ephs a 9-8 lead. After grabbing another defensive board, Mayer hit another jump shot, and Greenman got in on the action to put the Ephs up 13-8 at 16:40. Camel Matt Vadas stole the show in the next few minutes, scoring 11 straight points to establish a 19-13 lead for his team. Midway through the first, the Ephs found themselves down 27-19 when Greenman hit a longball. With about six to play in the half, Epley and Duncan Robinson ’17 hustled the men back to a 33-33 tie, and Mayer got the men a 35-33 lead with a jumper. Robinson hit back-to-back threes, and Wohl made a layup to put the men up 44-39. A three from Robinson and a jumper from Greenman sent the Ephs to the half with a 49-42 edge.

The Ephs gained some distance, holding a 60-50 lead at 17:24 in the half, but the Camels scored nine straight points to put some heat on the road team. Mayer and Wohl teamed up to build a 69-63 lead with 13:03 to go. The game was still tight until a three by Greenman with five to play pushed Williams’ lead to 87-77, followed by a layup from Daniel Aronowitz ’17 at 4:35. Mayer scored the men’s next six points, and with 2:25 to play, Williams was up by 15. As time wound down, the Ephs ended the game with a 98-90 win over the Camels.

Mayer led the team with 30 points, but Robinson and Wohl each scored over 20 points as well, with Robinson notching 25 and Wohl scoring 22. Mayer led the team with eight boards. The men shot 63.8 percent from the field and went eight for 13 from the arc. Conn. College managed 50-percent shooting, going 13 for 22 in three-point shooting. Williams earned its victory in the paint, scoring 33 from inside.

“There are no easy games in the NESCAC, so to finish the conference regular season at 9-1 is a tremendous accomplishment,” tri-captain John Weinheimer ’14 said. “I think it prepares us very well for a tournament style of play because we are used to plaing two very tough, physical games back-to-back.”

The men now turn to the NESCAC tournament, where they will play No. 7 Tufts at home on Saturday at 3 p.m. as the No. 2 seed. The NESCAC has been a formidable conference this season, with Amherst, Williams and Bowdoin all ranked in the top 25 in Div. III basketball heading into the final week of play.