This past weekend, men’s basketball fell to Bowdoin (15-10, 5-5 NESCAC) in the quarterfinal round of the NESCAC tournament by a score of 87-74. The seventh-seeded Ephs took on the second-seeded Polar Bears in Brunswick, Maine. The defeat concluded the 2015 season for the Ephs.
Adrenaline rushed through both teams at the start of the first half. Williams came out aggressively, making 53 percent of its three-point attempts and holding Bowdoin to only two shots from the foul line. Bowdoin’s John Swords and Williams’ Tri-captain Hayden Rooke-Ley ’15 battled it out in the first half. Swords’ unstoppable post moves and Rooke-Ley’s consistent three-point shooting were major factors to their respective team’s success during the first half. The seven-foot tall Swords led the Polar Bears with 16 points in the first half, heavily using the height advantage he had over any Eph unfortunate enough to guard him. However, Rooke-Ley was on fire from behind the arc, making six three-pointers and scoring 21 points in the first half. His dominance on the court allowed for Williams to take the lead at halftime with a score of 44-37.
However, the game quickly shifted to Bowdoin’s favor in the second half. They were able to erase the deficit within the first few minutes of the half, rattling the Ephs and heavily affecting their shooting. Williams only made 28.1 percent of its shots in the second half and failed to score for over six minutes in the middle of the half. This allowed the Polar Bears to take a commanding lead by finishing difficult layups and going to the foul line 30 times in the half. Mike Greenman ’17 came up with some crucial three-pointers to try and keep the Ephs in the game. He finished with 12 points. Tri-captain Ryan Kilcullen ’15 also made several big shots, finishing with 16 points and five rebounds. However, Williams was never able to take off offensively and put together a meaningful scoring run. Rooke-Ley, the team’s offensive leader, fouled out when the Ephs trailed by eight with less than two minutes left in the game. At this point, the Ephs began intentionally fouling and Bowdoin was able to win the game with a comfortable 87-74 victory.
In the end, the Polar Bears outscored the Ephs 50 to 30 in the second half, in which no Williams player scored more than seven points. Bowdoin finished the game with a 50.9 percent shooting percentage while Williams made 39 percent of its shots. Rooke-Ley was the high scorer for the Ephs, netting 28 points. Tri-captain Daniel Wohl ’15 was never able to find his stroke in the game, scoring only eight points. However, Wohl was able to grab 10 rebounds.
The Ephs end their season with this loss as a bid to the NCAA tournament is no longer in the picture. Kilcullen commented on the season, saying, “It definitely didn’t turn out how we hoped or expected it would, but I’m really proud of our team. We fought hard every game and – with the exception of one or two games – we gave ourselves a chance to win.”
The three captains – Kilcullen, Rooke-Ley and Wohl – were invaluable to the team and will be greatly missed. Wohl finishes his career at Williams with 1278 points, making him the 13th highest scorer in Williams history. Rooke-Ley, despite being injured for three weeks in January, averaged 19.7 points this year and finishes his career with 999 points. He also set a new school record for most three-pointers in a single game (12 three-pointers) and broke the NCAA Div. III for most consecutive free throws made in a single game (67 in a row). These three captains were great leaders and will be missed tremendously. Kilcullen says on behalf of the seniors, “We couldn’t have asked for a better group of guys with whom to spend our final year, and we’re excited about the future of the program.”