WILLIAMSTOWN, MA - No. 3 Williams men's basketball fell to Salem State this afternoon 83-69 in the final game of the Williams Invitational. Williams fell to 1-1 on the season, while Salem State improved its record to 3-0.
Point guard Justin Nieves led the way for the Vikings, pouring in 29 points on 10-17 shooting, including seven threes. Nieves also pulled down six rebounds and had three assists. Brian Clark added 20 points and six rebounds for Salem State, and Nate Simpson had 11 points and nine rebounds.
"Give a lot of credit to Salem State - They played awfully well," Williams Head Coach Mike Maker said. "We lost to a good basketball team today. I think once we understand our identity as a team, we're going to be good. And until then we're going to have nights like the one we had today. I have a lot of confidence in our players and in our program. Right now we're just going through some growing pains."
The game was a battle in the first half. The Vikings started the game on a 17-7 run; John Weinheimer managed to stem the tide for the Ephs, however, scoring five straight points to make the score 17-12, first with a bank-shot, then an and-one driving layup on the left side with 13:23 to play in the half. The Ephs slowly closed the Vikings' lead from there, and took a 29-28 lead with 5:36 remaining on a hook shot from Mayer. Williams slowly extended the margin from there, taking its biggest lead fo the game with 3:21 to play on a a three from James Klemm that made the score 37-32. After buckets from Nieves and Tavone Wynder, a jumper from the left corner from Matt McCreary in the left corner at the buzzer gave Williams a 39-36 lead headed into the half.
Both teams were solid offensively in the first half, with Williams shooting 53 percent from the field and Salem shooting 51 percent.
The second half was a different story. Salem State came out of the gate hard, retaking the lead less than two minutes into the half 43-41 on a jumper from Daniel Clark. The Ephs drew even twice in the next five minutes, but after a Jordan Mickens lay-up made the score 52-52 with 14:34 to play, the Vikings went on an 8-0 run capped by a Daniel Clark lay-up with 13:41 to go. They did not look back, shutting the down the Ephs offense almost completely the rest of the way, as Williams scored only 17 points for the remainder of the game on on 3-20 shooting from the field. Salem State continued putting the ball in the hoop, and Williams could not stem the tide; the Vikings walked away with the 83-69 victory.
Williams shot only 23.5 percent from the field in the half, while Salem shot 50 percent. Williams notably went 2-14 from three in the second 20 minutes, while Salem went 6-9.
"I am proud of our team and how we competed," Maker said. "We weren't as patient as I would like, and we missed a lot of chippies around the basket. Obviously from three I think we're a better team than we showed today."
Williams will next face Wesleyan at home on Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. Salem will face Gordon College on Tuesday at home at 7 p.m.