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January 7, 2012

Ephs recover from loss in NESCAC opener to defeat visiting Bates 67-47

WILLIAMSTOWN, MA - Williams men's basketball rebounded from last night's defeat to Tufts to top Bates 67-47 at home this afternoon. Williams earned the come-from-behind victory behind its second-half defense, as the Ephs held the Bobcats to 16 second-half points on 21 percent shooting after entering the break behind the visitors, 31-29.

The Ephs improved to 12-2 on the season and 1-1 in the NESCAC, while the Bobcats fell to 6-6 overall and 0-2 in conference play.

The Ephs hit only 18 percent of their threes in the game, going four for 22, but shot 40 percent overall while holding the Bobcats to 32 percent shooting for the game. 

Williams head coach Mike Maker was happy with the way his team rebounded from the previous night's loss. "I'm proud of our guys because they got knocked down last night and they got back up today, and that's what championship teams and programs are made of," he said. "A lot of credit has to go to our players. They repsonded favorably and competed hard, and in spite of shooting a low percentage from three we still won going away because of our effort and our teamwork."

Williams was led offensively by Nate Robertson and James Klemm, who scored 12 points apiece. Michael Mayer came off the bench to join the pair in double-digits with 11 points of his own. Robertson also had two steals and two blocks for the Ephs.

Luke Matarazzo scored 10 points for the visitors and pulled down a game high six rebounds, while Will Furbush scored a team-high 12 points.

The Bobcats opened the game on an 8-3 run behind two jumpers from Matarazzo, but the Ephs quickly tied the game 8-8 with 13:40 to play in the half on a hook shot from Mayer on the left book. Bates was able to take another five point lead, 15-10, on a three from Furbush with 9:40 remaining in the half, but five straight points from Mayer over the following two minutes again tied the game, 15-15.

The Ephs took their first lead of the half, 20-19, on a three from Klemm with 5:05 to play in the half. However the Ephs could not take full advantage of the momentum – although they led by as many as five, Bates retook the lead, 29-28, on another Furbush three with 1:06 to play in the half. The Bobcats ultimately entered the break up 31-29.

Bates' defense was largely able to keep Williams in check in the first 20 minutes, holding the home team to 41 percent shooting (11-27) and 1-12 shooting from behind the arc. The visitors shot 48 percent in the half (12-25), led by Matarazzo, who had 10 points headed into the break. Mayer led the way for the Ephs with nine points on 3-3 shooting from both the field and the foul line.

Williams began to hit from behind the arc at the start of the second half; although the teams traded baskets, the Ephs hit threes rather than twos, leading to a 37-35 lead 2:30 into the half to force a Bates timeout. The Ephs then held the Bobcats scoreless until the 12:08 mark, when a jumper from Graham Safforo made the score 41-37. Williams then went on a 6-0 run to take a 47-37 lead and force another Bates timeout, as Brian Emerson hit four free throws and Taylor Epley made a driving up-and-under layup with 10:31 to play.

The Bobcats were still unable to find their offensive groove after the timeout, and the Ephs were able to extend their lead slowly, highlighted by a pull up three from Rooke-Ley in the left corner at the 8:01 mark that made the score 52-37. Bates continued to battle, but it was not enough: the Bobcats were able to score 10 points in the final six minutes, but the Ephs still extended their lead, and walked off the floor with a 67-47 victory.

"Our two home losses, they shot an awfully high percentage in the second half," said Maker. "A lot of that has to do with our fatigue, not being in game shape after early season injuries. We are going to have to play our way into game shape and its going to be awhile. As disappointed as i was last night very proud today because of the way our young men responded. There is a lot of character and talent in our locker room, and we have to do a lot of work to do in preparation for our upcoming road NESCAC weekend."

Williams will next face Wesleyan on the road at 8 p.m. next Friday, while Bates will face off with rival Colby at home, also next Friday at 8 p.m. 

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