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December 29, 2011

Ephs pull out 66-64 win over Thomas More in final second

CRESTVIEW HILLS, Ky. -- Down one point with 2.1 seconds left and 94 feet away from the basket, the Williams College men's basketball team could see the championship game of the Coach Connor Classic slipping away.

But coming out a 30-second timeout, the Ephs were able to get the ball to senior leader James Wang, who was fouled 35 feet away from the basket and hit on all three of the ensuing free throws with 0.3 seconds remaining, giving Williams a 66-64 victory over host Thomas More College.

"We ran an in-bounds play that set a screen for Nate (Robertson), who is our best passer, and a staggered double-screen for James (Wang)," Ephs head coach Mike Maker said. "Taylor Epley set a great screen for Nate, who made a great pass to James and he was whacked about 35 feet away from the basket. It took all five guys on the court to get it done successfully."

Williams won its ninth straight game and improved to 10-1 on the season, while the Saints fell to 8-4 overall.

Junior James Klemm led the Ephs with 15 points, while Michael Mayer came off the bench for 12 and senior Brian Emerson added 10. Wang and Robertson each finished with nine points.

"This was a very competitive tournament," Maker said. "I'm very, very proud of my guys winning not only this game, but the tournament as well. We weren't very good tonight, we looked fatigued, out of sync, out of rhythm. Having said that, we found a way to make plays when we needed to and win the game. That's what good players do."

Thomas More jumped out to a 10-5 lead with 17:12 to play in the first half when senior center Colt Stafford made a lay-up.  Williams answered with a 26-10 run capped by a lay-up by Michael Mayer to take a 31-20 lead with 5:13 to play in the opening half.  The Saints responded with a 10-1 run to cut the lead to 32-30 when Stafford made on-of-two free-throws with 41-seconds to play in the first half.  Mayer made a lay-up with 15-seconds to play in the half to extend the Ephs' lead to 34-30 at halftime.

Williams opened the second half on an 18-17 run to extend the lead to 52-47 with 8:24 to play in the game when Brian Emerson made a lay-up. Thomas More answered with a 13-6 run capped by a lay-up by junior small forward Ethan King to take a 60-58 lead with 3:46 to play in the game. 

The Ephs' responded with a 3-0 run to take a 61-60 lead with 2:26 to play in the game when Emerson made one-of-two free-throws. The Saints used a 4-2 run to take a 64-63 lead with two-seconds to play in the game when junior small forward Phil Feinberg made two free-throws. That set up the Ephs' dramatic winning play in the final second.

Two Saints reached double-figure scoring as Stafford had a game-high 19 points and Feinberg added 18. Stafford led the Saints on the boards with a game-high nine rebounds, while Feinberg added eight. 

Emerson was named to the Academic All-Tournament team after the contest.

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