Men’s basketball drops season opener 75-68

Men’s basketball (0-1) opened up its 2014-15 campaign last Saturday, falling to Southern Vermont by a score of 75-68 in a packed Chandler Gymnasium last Saturday. It was the men’s first game under Head Coach Kevin App. The Ephs, ranked No. 5 in the preseason poll after reaching the NCAA Div. III National Championship game last season, fell once again to the Mountaineers, who defeated the Ephs 88-87 in the season opener one year ago.

The Mountaineers started the game hot, running out to a quick 12-3 lead within the first three minutes of the game. However, crucial three-point plays from tri-captain Hayden Rooke-Ley ’15 and tri-captain Daniel Wohl ’15 helped the men tie the game at 14-14 with 12 minutes remaining in the first half. From there, Southern Vermont regained momentum, going on a 15-6 run, earning a 29-20 lead over Williams with a mere five minutes left in the first. The Ephs were quick to respond, as point guard Mike Greenman ’17 hit a quick three pointer, followed by five straight points from Rooke-Ley and a crucial three-point shot from Luke Thoreson ’16 that put the Ephs up 31-29 over the Mountaineers with a little over three minutes to play in the half. Two consecutive three pointers from tri-captain Ryan Kilcullen ’15 and a late layup from Greenman put the men up 39-36 heading into the second period of play.

Southern Vermont began the second period of play with a 23-7 run putting them up by 13 points with 11 minutes left to play. The Ephs countered by stringing a few quick points together, two from Thoreson, two from Rooke-Ley and three from Daniel Aronowitz ’17 that diminished the Mountaineers’ lead to six with nine minutes left in regulation. Despite the resolve, the men did not regain the lead for the remainder of the game. A layup from Aronowitz with two minutes remaining to put the Ephs down 70-66 was not enough to oust the Mountaineers, who outscored the Ephs 5-2 in the last two minutes of play to clinch the game.

The men’s play was not what followers of Williams basketball have become accustomed to. The game was sloppy, with the men forfeiting an astonishing 21 turnovers and shooting a mere 35.3 percent from the field. A bright spot for the Ephs was a 96 percent free throw percentage, knocking down 24 of 25 for the game. Rooke-Ley led the men with 20 points, Kilcullen had a game-high nine rebounds and Greenman added two assists.

“We’re disappointed in how we played, but we’re not discouraged,” Wohl said. “We’re going to learn from it, and our foucs is now on preparing to play Oneonta State.”

The men’s results against Oneonta State yesterday came in too late to report. They will next face off against Johnston State at home tomorrow at 7 p.m. before hitting the road this Saturday for a NESCAC and Little Three matchup against Wesleyan at 7 p.m.  The men then host MCLA this Tuesday at 7 p.m.