Ephs upset Panthers, fall to Continentals

On Sunday, men’s basketball (13—5, 2—4 in the NESCAC) made a statement at home with an 89-65 victory over the No. 15 Middlebury Panthers. The Panthers brought an aggressive and quick offense to Chandler Gym, but the Ephs immediately dialed it up to match them. The first half was a frenzy of activity on both sides of the floor, and the Ephs hit 55.6 percent of their shots in the first half and nearly half of their shots from three-point range.

Tri-captain Dan Aronowitz ’17 scored the Ephs’ first seven points with two drives and a three-pointer. The teams traded buckets in quick succession for the next several minutes before Bobby Casey ’19 dribbled out of trouble in the corner and sank a three-pointer from the right side to put Williams up 24-23.

After a travel call against Middlebury, Kyle Scadlock ’19 got a second-chance post bucket to fall and Marcos Soto ’19 then converted a putback to give Williams a five-point lead, its largest of the game at that point. Middlebury pulled back to within two, but the 6-foot-8 Soto sank back-to-back threes, extending the Eph lead to eight and forcing a Panther timeout.

Both teams stalled for the next couple minutes, and the Eph lead stayed in the single digits. In the final two minutes, Middlebury retook a 37-36 lead, but James Heskett ’19 knocked down a three from the corner with five seconds to play, giving Williams a two-point lead at the half.

The teams remained knotted for the first few minutes of the second half, but with Williams up 42-40 and 16:40 left in the game, Aronowitz hit a three ball off a screen from Soto, kicking off a 17-5 run for the Ephs that lasted for the next 4 1/2 minutes. Soto contributed a three-point play on a drive, and Matt Karpowicz ’20 posted up Middlebury’s Nick Tarantino to give Williams a double-digit lead, 59-45.

James Heskett ’19 scored 18 in Saturday’s win over Middlebury. Photo Courtesy of Sports Information.
James Heskett ’19 scored 18 in Saturday’s win over Middlebury. Photo courtesy of Sports Information.

Williams slowly extended their lead with more strong play by Aronowitz, Soto and Heskett, the latter two of whom were in double digits in the second half and finished with career-high scoring totals. With six minutes remaining, Scadlock came down with a huge rebound and kicked it out to Mike Greenman ’18, who swished a trey to give the Ephs a 19-point lead, 77-58.

At this point, Williams slowed down the pace of the game, and the Eph reserves got some playing time in the final 90 seconds. Having outscored the Panthers 50-28 in the second half, the Ephs led 89-65 at the final buzzer.

Middlebury guard Matt St. Amour led all scorers with 24 points. Soto led the Ephs with 20 points, and Heskett and Aronowitz each had 18. Scadlock led the team with seven rebounds and contributed three blocks.

Williams’ successful shooting in the first half held in the second, while Middlebury’s woes from the field intensified as the game progressed. The Ephs made 61.5 percent of their second-half attempts and half of their treys, finishing the game with season-highs in both categories: 58.5 percent from the field and 48.1 percent from three-point range. Middlebury shot 40 percent from the field on the game and just 28 percent from long distance.

Head Coach Kevin App was pleased by the impressive win. “This was the best we have played collectively since the fall. Everyone from the starters to the bench went in, played hard, and played with confidence,” he said. “We played like we didn’t care what happened, and that’s what we’ve been missing. When we play as hard as we can and as fun as we can, we’re a really good basketball team.”

The victory followed a  94-76 loss to Hamilton (13—5, 3—2 in the NESCAC) on Friday. Williams struggled throughout the first half in Clinton, N.Y. Although the men played much better in the second half, the Ephs were unable to complete the comeback and finished the game down by 18 points.

The Ephs shot very poorly, finishing the first half shooting shy of 30 percent from the field and having only hit three of 14 three-point attempts. 

Down 20-8 halfway through the half, the Ephs took a timeout to halt the Continentals’ momentum. Out of the timeout, Williams gained back a bit of ground and cut their deficit back to single digits with eight minutes to play but, once again, Hamilton came roaring back, this time with a remarkable run from behind the arc. Five of the Continentals’ next six buckets were three-pointers, allowing them to rack up a massive amount of points in a short time.

Williams, meanwhile, continued their shooting woes and also struggled to hold onto the ball. Hamilton came up with six steals in the first half and finished the game with 21 points off of turnovers.

The Ephs narrowed the lead slightly in the final minutes as the Continentals cooled off a bit from the field, and Greenman swished a wild buzzer-beating three-pointer to set the score at 45-25 at the half.

Clawing their way back into the game over the course of the second half behind dominant play by Scadlock and Greenman, Williams cut its deficit from 20 at the half to just seven with 7:45 to play. Scadlock and Greenman were both in double figures in the second half alone, and the duo combined for more than 50 percent of the team’s second-half.

However, three consecutive Continental three-pointers immediately halted the Ephs’ advance, reinvigorated the home crowd and put the Continentals back up by sixteen. A pair of foul shots by Soto and a trey by Casey pulled Williams to within 11, but Hamilton pulled away once and for all with an 8-1 run. Hamilton’s 18-point margin with two-and-a-half minutes to play remained virtually unchanged to the final buzzer, and the final tally was 94-76 in Hamilton’s favor. Scadlock led Williams in both scoring and rebounds, notching 20 points and securing nine rebounds.

Williams had gone 2-4 in January before the Hamilton loss. They defeated Oneonta State and Colby but lost to Amherst, Trinity, Bowdoin and Hamilton. Today, the men have a rematch away against archrival Amherst at 7 p.m.