Ephs split games against NESCAC rivals to set up tournament bout with Amherst

Men’s basketball  (17—7, 5—5 in the NESCAC) finished the 2017 regular season with a 93-68 loss to Tufts and a thrilling 65-62 victory over Bates.

The Ephs met the Bobcats  on Sunday in an exciting contest. Bates jumped out to an early lead due to a slew of early Eph turnovers. The Bobcats’ ball control allowed them to build up a 21-12 lead in the first 11 minutes.

The Ephs then caught fire, and the men strung together a 14-2 run over the next four minutes. A free throw and three-pointer by tri-captain Dan Aronowitz ’17 and a post bucket by Michael Kempton ’19 cut the lead to three. Aronowitz came up with a steal on the next Bobcat possession and hit his second three-pointer to tie the game at 23.

A transition three by Bobby Casey ’19 then gave the men their first lead. At the half, the Ephs were up 36-32. Aronowitz shot a perfect 6-6 from the field and 3-4 from the line to register 17 points in the half.

Williams came out on fire from long range to start the second half, riding that wave to a double-digit lead early in the third quarter. Cole Teal ’18 bounced back from an 0-5 first half with two long treys within a minute of each other, punctuated by a layup by tri-captain Mike Greenman ’18. Bates guard Jeff Spellman answered with a three of his own, but two more from long range by Aronowitz and James Heskett ’19, the team’s fourth and fifth in six attempts, extended the Williams lead even further to 52-39 with five minutes gone in the second half.

Cole Teal ’18 registered a double-double in the win over Bates. Photo courtesy of Sports Information.

The margin remained at ten for several minutes, as both teams struggled to score. The Ephs especially went cold, scoring only four points over the next 11 minutes, which allowed the Bobcats to slowly chip away at the Eph lead. Casey snapped a seven-minute scoreless streak for Williams with a huge triple. Spellman got a wild layup to fall, but Teal nailed a three-pointer from five feet behind the arc to give Williams a 65-60 lead and ice the game.

Aronowitz led all scorers with 22 points, while Teal notched his first double-double of the year, putting up 12 points – all from second-half three-pointers – and pulling down 11 rebounds.

Head Coach Kevin App was happy with the men’s final regular season performance. “I was very proud of the teams’ toughness and competitiveness Sunday at Bates,” he said. “Anytime you win on the road in the NESCAC, you have to play well. The guys really stepped up, played hard and executed with confidence to make sure we came away with a victory.”

On the road at Tufts on Friday, the men fell 93-68. Shooting struggles for the Ephs allowed the Jumbos to build a substantial lead before halftime.

The teams combined for just 15 points in the first five minutes of play. The Ephs struggled from three-point  range throughout the first half, shooting 1-9. These woes, combined with a 9-2 turnover ratio in Tufts’ favor, made it difficult for Williams to surmount their early deficit, and they trailed by 21 at halftime.

The Ephs initially appeared to have remedied their shooting issues in the second half. They scored 13 points in the first five minutes and made three of their first six long-distance attempts. However, the Jumbos also came out hot from the field and ceded no ground to the Ephs. Leading 60-41 with 14:20 to play, the Jumbos then went on a remarkable run from three-point range, hitting seven of their next eight tries to put the game out of reach.

Casey led Williams in scoring with 16, followed closely by Kyle Scadlock ’19, who had 15. Aronowitz notched 10 rebounds.

Aronowitz finished the regular season with 1223 points for his career, good for 19th overall in program history.

With the regular season over, the men enter the NESCAC tournament seeded sixth. App discussed his hopes for the tournament.

“We’ve learned a lot about ourselves as a group throughout the season, and look forward to competing in the tournament,” he said. “We’ll compete with energy and enthusiasm and do our best to continue what has been a very enjoyable season so far.”

On Saturday, the sixth-seeded Ephs will travel to Amherst to play their third-seeded archrival at 2 p.m. in the first round of the NESCAC tournament.