Men’s basketball (27-4, 9-1 in the NESCAC) sailed through the Sweet 16 and the Elite Eight at the NCAA Div. III tournament in Fredericksburg, Va., last weekend. Friday’s game against Albertus Magnus in the Sweet 16 was a high-scoring affair, with the men taking an easy 110-92 victory. In the Elite Eight on Saturday, the men’s defense trammeled Mary Washington, resulting in a 79-46 Williams victory. With the pair of victories, the men will now prepare for the Final Four in Salem, Va., this weekend.
Williams gained separation from Albertus Magnus early in Friday’s game. Albertus Magnus scored the first four points, but the men quickly built up a healthy lead, earning an 18-12 advantage courtesy of a three from Hayden Rooke-Ley ’15 just over five minutes into the game. The Falcons proved to be their own demise, however, as they got into foul trouble early. Solid shooting from the line coupled with an unstoppable offense paved the way to the Ephs’ massive 58 points in the first half. The men did most of their work in the paint, and while the defense gave up some ground, they pulled away with a 58-42 lead at the break.
Coming back from the half, Albertus Magnus got a little more going on offense, but ultimately could not battle back from the early deficit. Falcon Eian Davis converted an and-one and followed up the basket with another layup
around the 15-minute mark to tighten the game to 69-57. However, tri-captain Taylor Epley ’14 countered with a layup, pushing the score back to 71-57. Things got a little closer around the eight-minute mark, with the Falcons coming within seven points of the Ephs. Head Coach Mike Maker called a timeout, and eight seconds later, Duncan Robinson ’17 scored the first points of a 12-2 run that capitalized on good free throw shooting to solidify the Ephs’ victory. A last-second three off of a Williams turnover made the final score 110-92 with Williams firmly on top.
Five Ephs scored in double
digits on Friday. Epley had 15, Robinson had 24, Rooke-Ley had 18, Daniel Wohl ’15 had 16, and tri-captain Michael Mayer ’14 had 27. The Ephs shot 56.6 percent to the Falcons’ 46.2 percent. In addition to his team-leading 27 points, Mayer had 16 rebounds for the men.
With Friday’s victory, the men took on Mary Washington in Saturday’s Elite Eight matchup. The Ephs scored the first four points, but the Eagles scored the next five on a layup and a three. Epley stifled Mary Washington, however, hitting two straight threes and making a layup to put the men up 12-5. Mike Greenman ’17 hit a three-point jumper to increase the lead to 10. The Eagles’ offense struggled mightily, and between 10:30 and 7 minutes to go in the first, they failed to make a basket. The Ephs weren’t making things easier either, notching seven threes in the first half alone. Mary Washington took an eye-popping 28 threes in the first half, converting only four of those attempts. The Ephs entered the locker room with a 43-20 lead.
Out of the break, Mayer hit a layup and Greenman converted an and-one, shutting the lid on any hopes of a comeback for the home team with a 48-22 lead. The men had scored more points than Mary Washington would all game by just one minute into the second. By halfway through the second, the Ephs were up by 30 points, and five minutes later, they were up by 41 points. Mary Washington closed the game with a 10-point push, but Williams left Virginia with a 79-46 victory.
Robinson and Mayer each had a double-double in the game. Robinson scored 17 points and grabbed 14 rebounds, and Mayer notched 14 points and 12 rebounds. Epley and Greenman were also in double-digit point totals, with 19 and 13 points, respectively. The Ephs shot 53.4 percent, while the Eagles managed a meager 23.1-percent shooting.
“It was an incredible weekend,” tri-captain John Weinheimer ’14 said. “We shared the ball really well and came away with two solid victories over two very great teams.”
Williams will face familiar rival Amherst in the Final Four in Salem, Va., this Friday at 8:30 p.m. Three of the Ephs’ four losses this season have come at the hands of the Jeffs, but the Ephs will look to have the last word this season.
“We are excited to play Amherst again,” Weinheimer said. “It is a great rivalry, and we have a lot of respect for them. Hopefully, we are able to play a full 40 minutes of Williams basketball and come away with a victory.”