Men’s basketball defeats Amherst, St. Joseph’s but falls to Middlebury

Men’s basketball (14–4, 3–2 in the NESCAC) defeated archrival Amherst on Jan. 17 before falling to Middlebury on Saturday. The men bounced back with an emphatic win against St. Joseph’s on Monday.

The men jumped out to an early 7-0 advantage versus St. Joseph’s and ended the first half up 19 points, having shot 66.7 percent (18 of 27) from the field and 50 percent behind the arc (6-12). Co-captain Cole Teal ’18 started hot with 11 points in the first half.

A combination of stingy defense and sharp shooting helped the Ephs cruise to a 104-49 victory.

Head coach Kevin App praised the total team effort.

“I think the starters set the tone with their attention to detail and effort level early, and that’s what got us the lead,” App said. “The young guys came in with tremendous energy at the end, and it was great to see because we are going to need some of those guys to step up into different roles down the stretch. So, it’s good to get everybody some minutes.”

On Saturday, the men fell 70-66 at Middlebury in a closely-contested conference matchup.

The game began as a defensive battle. Both teams decided to attack the basket, earning opportunities at the free-throw line.

With 13:44 left in the half, Bobby Casey ’19 gave the Ephs an 11-9 lead with a 3-pointer off the dribble. The Panthers leveled the score a minute later, but co-captain Mike Greenman ’18 took the lead back with the team’s third 3-pointer of the half. Another Greenman 3 and a tip-in from Matt Karpowicz ’20 put the Ephs up 21-13.

The Panthers then went on a run, cutting the score to 21-18. Each team upped its defensive presence and kept the other off the board for a minute and a half, but Teal ended the drought with a floater in the lane. Back-to-back 3s gave Middlebury the lead, and the Panthers finished the first half up 31-28.

Middlebury started the second half on a run, bringing the score to 39-31. Baskets from Karpowicz and James Heskett ’19 cut the Ephs’ deficit to five, but Joey Leighton and the Panthers built the lead back up to 16.

Casey led a late-game push for the Ephs, and the deficit stood at just four with 41 seconds left in the game. The Panthers, however, held on to win 70-66.

Heskett led the men with 19 points, and Karpowicz totaled a team-best of 11 rebounds.

“I was proud that we fought until the end and gave ourselves a fighting chance at the end,” App said. “But we weren’t tough enough throughout the 40 minutes to weather the storm.”

Jan. 17’s rivalry matchup marked the 222nd meeting between Williams and Amherst. In Chandler Gymnasium, the men prevailed 72-69.

Both teams came out of the gate with intensity, aggressive defense and desire to run in transition. The Ephs jumped out to an early lead as Heskett made a 3-pointer and an and-one. Mammoth forward Joseph Schneider scored three baskets for the visitors to bring the score to 9-6 Ephs.

The battle made its way to the paint, where Karpowicz fueled the Eph offense with a couple post moves and a reverse layup. As the men began to build a lead, Amherst hit a 3 to stop a potential run.

With the Ephs up 21-13, the Mammoths went on a 10-0 run to take the lead.

The teams continued to trade baskets, and the game was tied at 37 at halftime.

The Mammoths struck first in the second half. Amherst guard Michael Riopel got the hot hand and put the Mammoths up, but the Ephs regained control with 14:21 left. Solid defense on both sides kept the game locked at 49.

Coming out of a Williams timeout, Henry Feinberg ’20 put the Ephs ahead with a corner 3 off a pass from Marcos Soto ’19. The Mammoths battled back after several possessions and evened the score at 54.

With 3:30 left in the game, both teams were playing lockdown defense, and the Mammoths led 65-64.

Casey knocked down a 3-pointer from the top of the key to put the Ephs up two with 3:20 remaining. A minute and a half later, he doubled the lead with a floater over two defenders. With 1:34 to go, Riopel snuck backdoor for the Mammoths and cut the Eph lead to two.

After an Amherst timeout, the men missed a field goal. The Mammoths had an opportunity to tie the game, but Teal secured a defensive rebound, giving the Ephs the ball up two with 45 seconds left.

The Ephs took a timeout, after which Heskett drilled a stepback 3 from the left corner as the shot clock expired. With 14 seconds remaining, Williams led by five.

The Mammoths raced down the court and made a quick layup to cut the lead to three with 7.9 seconds left. The Ephs inbounded the ball, and immediately Teal was fouled.

Teal made the first of two foul shots. The Mammoths secured the rebound after the miss and put the ball in Riopel’s hands. He pump-faked to get himself open and fired a 3 as time expired, but the shot bounced off the rim, securing a dramatic 72-69 Eph victory.

The Ephs shot 45.5 percent (25 of 55) from the field. Heskett led the men with 22 points.

App praised his team’s composure. “We have a veteran group, so they have been in a lot of different situations,” App said. “I was very proud of how we kept our poise. [We] kept to our principles defensively to get some huge stops, and a couple of big shots went in.”

App said that the atmosphere of the game was special.

“There’s nothing more rewarding for me as a coach than seeing a great crowd and environment for great games,” he said. “We’ve given them a bunch of great games, especially against Little Three opponents.”

The men travel to play Trinity on Friday at 7 p.m.

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