Men’s basketball trumps Tufts, fails to conquer Bates

Chris Galvin ’18 had three rebounds in the men’s 80-75 victory over Tufts last Saturday. -Photo courtesy of Sports Information
Chris Galvin ’18 had three rebounds in the men’s 80-75 victory over Tufts last Saturday. -Photo courtesy of Sports Information

Last weekend, men’s basketball (13-8, 4-4 in the NESCAC) split a tough pair of conference games, falling to Bates by a score of 70-68 on Friday before prevailing over Tufts 80-75 on Saturday. In previous NESCAC action on Jan. 30, the men dominated Middlebury 87-62, ending a two-game slide in which Williams fell in close contests to Hamilton on Jan. 24 and to Amherst, in overtime, on Jan. 21.

The Ephs defeated the Jumbos last Saturday, erasing a halftime deficit and fending off a last-minute rally by the Jumbos to lock up the 80-75 victory on the road.

Williams erased the Tufts lead at the start of the second half with a pair of threes by tri-captain Hayden Rooke-Ley ’15 and Mike Greenman ’17. The men proceeded to keep the game close until eight minutes into the second half, when tri-captain Daniel Wohl ’15 retook the lead for Williams with a three-point shot that moved him to 17th on Williams’ all-time scoring list. After several scoreless minutes for both teams, Daniel Aronowitz ’17 added two foul shots to give the Ephs a three-point lead.

Over the course of the next five minutes, Wohl took control of the game, scoring 15 consecutive points for the Ephs, slowly building up a lead that reached double-digits with less than three minutes to play. Chris Galvin ’18 made a free throw to put the score at 76-66 in favor of Williams.

However, Tufts was never out of the game. A spurt of scoring and an aggressive full-court press defense by the Jumbos cut the Eph lead to just three with 45 seconds remaining. With a chance to tie the game, Tufts missed a three-point attempt before desperation fouls sent Rooke-Ley, a 90 percent free throw shooter, to the line. Rooke-Ley calmly sunk both of his shots to seal the 80-75 victory for Williams.

The Ephs’ one-two punch of Wohl and Rooke-Ley both finished the game with double-double’s. Wohl led all players in both categories, with 31 points and 13 boards.

The Ephs shot 39.6 percent from the field and 44 percent from three-point while Tufts hit 36.4 percent of their shots while struggling mightily from long distance, making only three of their 23 three-point attempts.

Last Friday, Bates fended off Williams to narrowly win 70-68. The teams were separated by only one point with less than a minute left, but the Bobcats pulled down a key offensive rebound to maintain possession while up one-point, thereby forcing the Ephs to foul. Bates sunk free throws to extend the lead to three, and Wohl couldn’t make an off-balance three fall to extend the game. More Bates free throws and a buzzer-beating three by Aronowitz made the final score 70-68.

Wohl and Rooke-Ley were dominant in the first half, combining for 29 of the Ephs’ 36 points and helping Williams to a 46.7 percent shooting percentage from behind the arc. After a high-scoring first half, the second half started very slowly as it took nine minutes for either team to score ten points.

At around the midway point of the half, Graham Safford converted a three-point play to put the Bobcats up by four, but the Ephs answered with threes by Rooke-Ley and tri-captain Ryan Kilcullen ’15 to reassert their lead.

A 9-3 run in the final five minutes featuring strong post play on both sides of the ball put Bates in the driver’s seat with less than two minutes to play. The teams traded misses, but Wohl converted a layup to cut the deficit to one. It was at this point that Bates came down with the key rebound that would ensure the Bates victory, 70-68.

Rooke-Ley led all scorers with 28 points, featuring six three-pointers, and Wohl recorded a double-double with 21 points and a game-high 11 boards.

“On Friday, we came up just short against a talented and experienced Bates team in a raucous environment,” Wohl said. “We’re disappointed with the result, but we played hard and we aren’t discouraged. We bounced back with a win on Saturday over Tufts. I think everyone was pleased with our pace and execution on offense, but we’re looking to improve our defensive rebounding.”

On Jan. 30, the Ephs were running on all cylinders and ran away with an 87-62 victory over the Panthers thanks to several hot shooting nights that saw them shoot 52.729 percent from the floor as a team, going 29 for 55.

Rooke-Ley, Wohl and Aronowitz, led the way for Williams with 20, 18 and 17 points, respectively. Killcullen and Cole Teal ’18 supported them with nine points each, and Darrias Sime ’16 added seven.

The game was close early in the first half but the Ephs were ahead by 18 early in the second half when a Panther dunk sparked a 7-0 run which cut the Ephs’ lead to 51-40 with 15:03 to go.

The Ephs regrouped, however, and coming out of a full timeout by Head Coach Kevin App, Wohl converted a lay-up opportunity. Moments later Teal sank another three and Killcullen followed with a basket of his own. Aronowitz then scored a lay-up in transition off a defensive rebound from Teal that gave the Ephs a 60-40 lead with 12:48 remaining.

The Panthers would get no closer than 14 after that Eph run concluded. The men held off Middlebury by going 17 of 19 from the free throw line and sinking their final 14 of the game.

On Jan. 24 the men suffered a heartbreaking 67-64 loss to Hamilton. The Ephs held a six-point lead with 3:41 to play but the Continentals went on a 10-1 run to take a 64-61 lead. The men failed to get a desperation shot off as time ran out, losing 67-64.

Williams traveled to Amherst on Jan. 21 for its second match up this season. The Ephs led for much of the second half until the Jeffs made a free throw to take a 70-69 lead. With 34 seconds to play, Amherst made a lay up to make the score 74-71, but Aronowitz made a three pointer with 27 seconds to play to tie the game. Time expired and the game went to overtime, where Williams suffered a cold streak of shooting, unfortunately allowing Amherst to take an eventual 86-76 win.

In the final weekend of NESCAC play in the regular season, Williams will host Conn. College this Friday and Wesleyan this upcoming Saturday.