WILLIAMSTOWN, MA - Williams men's basketball defeated Skidmore tonight, 76-59, to improve to 14-3 on the season and take home their second consecutive win. Skidmore fell to 10-4 on the year.
"Really proud of our guys," said Williams head coach Mike Maker. "We had a wonderful week of practice and preparation for today's game, and we needed it. I think our team is learning that we can win a variety of ways, and when teams pressure and take away the three point line we can throw it inside or drive the basketball and we did that today."
Taylor Epley led the Ephs in scoring with 19 points - 17 coming in the second half on a 7-7 shooting performance - and Brian Emerson took home his first double double of the year with 11 points and 11 boards. Nate Robertson and Michael Mayer joined Epley and Emerson in double figures with 15 points apiece.
"Brian Emerson's performance should not be overlooked," Maker said. "He provided senior leadership tonight."
Terron Victoria led the Thoroughbreds with 17 points and six rebounds, and Gerard O'Shea added 13 for the visitors.
The game started slowly, as the Ephs and Thoroughbreads combined to go 2-13 from the field and to commit eight turnovers in the first five minutes. The Ephs then started to put the ball in the hoop, going on a 13-0 run to make the score 15-3 with 10:33 to play in the half and force a Skidmore timeout. Things didn't change for the Thoroughbreds after the timeout, as Robertson scored five straight points, first on a three from the top of the key, then on two free throws, to make the score 20-3 with 9:26 to play.
Skidmore finally began to find its feet offensively after Robertson's free throws, scoring their first points in almost ten minutes on a three from Brian Lowry in the left corner with 8:46 to play in the half; the bucket started a 10-2 run for the Thoroughbreads that made the score 22-13 with 6:52 to play in the half and forced a time out from Williams. Out of the timeout, Williams went on a 7-0 run, but two threes from Skidmore made the score 31-19 with 2:31 to play in the half, and the teams traded buckets before a layup at the buzzer for Skidmore made the score 33-23 at the break.
After starting the half 1-17 from the field, Skidmore picked up its shooting, going 8-18 to finish the half 9-35 from the field. The Ephs went 10-23 from the field, but made their living from the free throw line, going 10-12 from the stripe as the Thoroughbreds picked up 10 fouls in the half while the Ephs only picked up five. Robertson and Mayer led the way for Williams, with nine and eight points, respectively, while Lowry scored six for Skidmore.
The teams traded baskets in the early going of the second half, but consecutive threes from the Thoroughbreds made the score 41-36 with 14:55 to play in the half, and another three after a pair of Mayer free throws made the score 43-39 with 14:10 to go. A three from Robinson from the left elbow on the Ephs' next possession stopped Skidmore's run, and a beautiful give-and-go between Mayer and freshman guard Daniel Wohl got the big man a lay-up on the left block and a foul; Mayer hit the free throw to make the score 49-39 with 12:04 minutes to play. Five straight points from Epley, first on a three from the right elbow, then on a hook shot on right block, stretched the Ephs' lead to 15, 54-39; a lay-up from Emerson was then followed by another Epley three, which made the score 59-39 with 9:40 to play in the half and forced a Skidmore timeout.
The Ephs' 16-0 run solidified their advantage; the Thoroughbreds were unable to cut the home team's lead to less than 15 for the remainder of the game, and Williams took home the 76-59 victory.
Williams shot 52 percent on the game, while holding the thorughbreads to 35 percent shooting; the Ephs also outrebounded the Thoroughbreds 41-29.
"It's been awhile since we shot over 50 percent, which we've been accustomed to over the years," Maker said. "We simply took what the defense gave us and as a result had good looks at the basket. Most importantly we had team spirit and a competetive edge."
Williams next faces Hamilton on Sunday at home at 4 p.m., while Skidmore takes on St. Lawrence on Tuesday at home at 8 p.m.