CRESTVIEW HILLS, KY. -- Senior James Wang came up with a key steal in the game's final seconds Wednesday and led the No. 7 Williams College men's basketball team to a 79-73 victory over Ohio Northern in the opening game of the Coach Connor Classic.
Wang's 22 points paced the Ephs, who improved to 9-1 with the victory. Ohio Northern fell to 6-4. Williams will face the winner of the Thomas More-University of Cincinnati-Clermont College game later this evening in the championship game Thursday at 5 p.m. est.
"We knew we were playing a high-quality opponent with a rich basketball tradition," Ephs head coach Mike Maker said. "We've only had two practices since our last game on Dec. 10, so I was really proud of the way our guys responded and came away with a hard-fought victory."
Wang shot 70 percent from the floor Wednesday (7 of 10) including 80 percent from beyond the arc (4 of 5). He got some help from classmate Brian Emerson, who netted 14 points, had five rebounds and dished out five assists in the win. He shot 7 of 11 from the floor.
Sophomore Michael Mayer netted 13 points and grabbed a team-high eight rebounds and first-year Daniel Wohl added 13 points. The Ephs shot 49.1 percent (26 of 53) from the floor as a team and made 8 of 21 three-points attempts in the victory. Another key component to the win was on the glass, as Williams held a considerable 37-24 advantage there.
"If you look at the center position, we had 27 points, 13 rebounds and six assists (from Emerson and Mayer)," Maker said. "They played very well. Wang looked very good, and we continue to get solid contributions from first-year Daniel Wohl."
Ohio Northern was led by Scott Schnelle's 24 points and five rebounds.
Williams trailed early on, taking its first lead with 13:22 remaining in the first half on a jumper by Mayer. That ignited an 11-2 run by the Ephs which saw them turn a one-point deficit into a 21-13 advantage. Wang had two key buckets in the run, including a three-pointer that was followed by an Emerson lay-up.
Williams would not trail the remainder of the game, going into halftime with an 11-point lead at 42-31. The Ephs stretched that to 13 points 12 seconds into the second half when Wang nailed a jumper, but Ohio Northern would fight back immediately to cut it to single digits.
It was a 67-61 Williams lead when Taylor Epley scored a key hoop with 4:12 left to make it an eight-point game. Emerson followed with another key hoop with 3:35 left.
It was a four-point game when Wang came up with his critical steal and hit both of his ensuing free throws. The Ephs hit their final eight free throws of the game to seal the 79-73 victory.
"I thought our decision-making down the stretch was key," Maker said. "We had 18 assists in the game and three or four of them led to easy baskets at key moments idown the stretch."