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December 7, 2011

Men's hoops shoots to 103-74 win over Keene State

WILLIAMSTOWN, MA - No. 8 Williams men's basketball claimed a 103-74 victory tonight against Keene State. Williams shot 64 percent from the floor in the win while holding Keen State to 41 percent shooting, and five different Ephs scored in double figures, including Michael Mayer with 22 and James Wang with 21.

The Owls were led by Derek D'Amours, who had 20 points, while Anthony Mariano and Ryan Martin added 18 apiece.

The Ephs climbed to 7-1 on the season, while Keene State fell to 5-2. 

Williams head coach Mike Maker was pleased with the performance. "We can't play much better than we played today," he said. "That's as well as we've played in this building that I remember, and it was a total team effort.  To have have only nine turnovers against a pressing team of that caliber, and to hold them to nine offensive rebounds when they average eighteen per game, and to have 19 assists on 35 baskets – you can't ask for much more. I was very, very happy with our performance."

Keene started the game in a full-court press off of makes, but the Ephs jumped in front quickly with excellent execution, starting the game 6-8 from the field and taking a 15-6 lead only 4:15 into the game behind baskets from six different Ephs. The team slowly stretched its lead as the half went on, and the Owls couldn't force a turnover until almost 12 minutes had passed. The Ephs took their biggest lead of the half with 6:27 to play, going up 46-22 on a jumper from Mayer. The Owls responded, managing to whittle the Ephs' lead down to 17, 55-38, by the end of the half behind Martin, Mariano, and D'Amours; the trio combined to score the Owls' final nine points.

Nate Robertson led the Ephs in the first half, scoring 13 points and adding 4 assists. Mariano and Martin had 15 and 10 points, respectively, for Keene in the half.

The Owls continued to push back at the start of the second half, cutting the Ephs' lead to 13 when Martin hit a pull up three less than a minute in, 59-46. The Ephs then suffered a blow, as Robertson went down injured after being fouled on a driving layup with 18:10 to play. However, Robertson's injury was not enough to phase the Ephs, who went on a 20-5 run over the next five minutes to secure a 79-51 lead. Keene would not come within 24 points of the remainder of the game, and Williams walked away with the 103-74 victory.

D'Amours led the Owls' offense in the second half, as he scored 16 consecutive points for the visitors between the 4:24 and 9:09 mark of the half. 

The 29-point margin was the largest in an Eph victory this season.

"Nothing's changed other than we're finally getting healthy and getting more conditioned," Maker said. "We didn't have much practice time with our core guys [before], and it affected our execution and timing offensively and our depth with our rotations. I think you can see that we have a nice rotation going now. When Nate went out with 18 left, we got an excellent performance from a lot of different guys."

The Ephs began the season with several key injuries, including one to Robertson and one to sophomore point guard Hayden Rooke-Ley. Rooke-Ley had 11 points on the night off the bench.

The most notable stat-line of the night was Mayer's. The sophomore center came off the bench and went 10-10 from the field, while pulling down seven rebounds, handing out four assists and not committing a turnover.

"Michael is extremely talented, with a high basketball IQ," Maker said. "He's tough to guard because is 6'9", and he can dribble, pass  and shoot like a guard, but he's crafty around basket and has great touch. In the off season, he committed in the weight room and got a lot stronger. We are looking for more wonderful things from him this season."

Williams will now take on Springfield at home Saturday at 4 p.m. Keene State will take on UMass Boston at home on Saturday at 3 p.m.

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