NORTHFIELD, VT - No. 7 Williams men's basketball stretched its win streak to five games tonight with a 70-52 win over Worcester State in the final of the Hockenbury Classic. The Ephs improved their record to 6-1 on the season with the win, while the Lancers fell to 2-4.
Williams head coach Mike Maker was pleased with the way his team played in the win. "I thought it was a game where we played some of the better defense we've played since I have been head coach at Wiilliams," he said. "We held them to 37 percent from floor with defensive discipline. We played great team basketball today, and we shared the ball. Worsceter is a tough-minded team, and they are very athletic. Coming away with a tournament championship was a goal of ours ahead of the weekend. This weekend performed well and took steps in right direction. We are better today than we were prior to coming here."
The Ephs took a 19-11 lead less than 10 minutes into the game, but Lancers took advantage of five consecutive Williams misses from beyond the arc to take a 22-19 lead with 7:19 to play in the half. The lead was the Lancers' last of the game, though, as the Ephs responded with a 17-4 run to close the half with a 36-26 lead.
Worsceter outshot Williams 44 percent to 42 percent in the first half, and both teams made 11 field goals. However, the Ephs were effective at forcing turnovers, as the Lancers committed 10 in the first half, and Williams was able to earn several more trips to the foul line, hitting 9-10 free throws to Worcester's 2-2.
The teams traded buckets coming out of the break before Williams picked it up and slowly stretched its double digit lead through the rest of the game. The Ephs led by as many as 22 in the half, and Williams ultimately outscored Worcster 34-26 half, allowing the team to walk away with the 70-52 victory.
Williams shot far better from the field in the second half, hitting 54 percent (13-24) of their field goals. They also improved their defense, holding the Lancers to 31 percent (9-29) shooting from the floor.
Taylor Epley paced the Ephs with 16 points. Michael Mayer came off the bench to add 12 to Williams' tally, while James Klemm and Hayden Rooke-Ley rounded out the Ephs in double figures with 11 points apiece.
Four Lancers were able to score in double figures on the game, led by Robert Hunter with 14 points. Hunter also pulled down a game-high 11 boards.
Epley was named to the all-tournament team, and Williams' Nate Robertson was named the tournament MVP. Although Robertson only scored three points and had three assists on the night, and averaged 8 points and 5 assists per game over the two games, he was integral to Williams' success in the tournament.
"It's not about statistics," said Maker. "We're a better basketball team when Nate Robertson is on the floor. He's our quarterback. We are not concerned with individual honors – we concern ourselves with team play. I am very pleased that Taylor [Epley] was named to the all tournament team, and that Nate was the tournament MVP, but I am really happy with how we played as a team today."
Williams will next face Keene State at 7 p.m. on Wednesday night, while Worcester face UMass-Dartmouth at 7 p.m. on Tuesday.