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January 22, 2012

Men's basketball overcomes Hamilton 82-61

WILLIAMSTOWN, MA - Led by 20 points on 8-13 shooting from pre-season All American James Wang, No. 15 Williams men's basketball defeated NESCAC foe Hamilton today, 82-61. The Ephs improved to 15-3 on the year and 3-2 in the conference with the win, while the Continentals fell to 11-8 on the season and 1-5 in the conference despite 26 points on 11-15 shooting from senior forward Pat Sullivan. 

Williams now sits at fifth in the NESCAC, while Hamilton is 10th. 

Wang was joined in double figures for Williams by James Klemm, Brian Emerson, and Nate Robertson, who had 13, 11 and 10 points, respectively. The Ephs shot 48 percent from the field and went 15-17 from the line in the second half and 18-20 overall in the game.

"The thing that may get overlooked is that Wang didn't commit a turnover in 31 minutes," Williams head coach Mike Maker said. "He kept the game really simple, and he was absolutely fabulous, and I thought our senior class was fantastic, between Wang, Emerson, and [Jordan] Mickens."

Mickens scored three points and pulled in four rebounds for the game. 

"We played with defensive discipline and offensively shared the ball and took high percentage shots," added Maker. "It was an excellent performance. I think we are getting better, and that's all you can ask for at this time of the year."

Center Ken Click joined Sullivan in double figures for the Continentals with 13 points. Hamilton shot 43 percent from the field and 10-13 from the line.

Williams started the game playing crisply on the offensive end, but had trouble putting the ball in the hoop, opening the game 0-7 from the field as Hamilton threw a variety of defenses at the home team. Hamilton was able to take advantage behind Click and Sullivan, who led the Continentals to a 9-2 lead with five and four points, respectively, before Klemm was able to make a lay-up off an offensive rebound four minutes into the game. 

From there, the Ephs and Continentals traded buckets twice; then, the Ephs found their offensive groove. With Hamilton up 13-6 with just under 15 minutes to play in the half, the Ephs went on an 18-2 run over the next four minutes capped by a pull up three from Hayden Rooke-Ley at the top of the key that made the score 22-15 and forced Hamilton coach Adam Stockwell to call a timeout.

Continental Ephraim McDowell hit a three coming out of the time out, but Williams continued to stretch their lead, going up as many as 14 when five consecuitve points from Wang made the score 37-23 with 5:21 to play in the half. At that point, the Eph offense again went cold: The home team did not score again for the remainder of the half, and Hamilton managed to cut the lead to nine, 37-28, going into the break.

Sullivan was particularly effective for the Contentals in the half, scoring 12 points on 6-7 shooting, while Wang scored 10 for the Ephs. Hamilton and Williams shot 39 and 42 percent for the half, respectively.

Hamilton started the second half on the offensive, agressively attacking Williams on the offensive end and chipping into the home team's lead: 1:30 into the second 20 minutes, Hamilton had outscored the Ephs 8-5 to make the score 42-36. However, Williams was able to withstand Hamilton's onslaught behind their free throw shooting, as the Ephs went 8-8 over the next six minutes and stretched their lead back to 10 when Rooke-Ley made a pair from the stripe with 12:19 to play.

At that point, the Ephs took control of the game, as their lead stayed over 10 for the remainder despite more stellar play from Sullivan, who had 14 second-half points. Williams put the game out of reach with 5:56 to play, when Hamilton's Eric Benvenuti picked up a flagrant foul following a scrum for a rebound on Hamilton's offensive end. The Ephs scored three points on the following possession, making the score 72-55. From there, Williams slowly stretched its lead before walking off the floor with the 82-61 win. 

Both offenses were more effective in the second half, as Williams shot 56 percent from the floor and Hamilton shot 48 percent from the floor. 

"We only had 5 turnovers on the game, we shared the ball, we had balanced scoring, and we guarded," Maker said. "I think if there is one fly in the ointment it's probably our interior defense; they were able to get deep position on us and get touches in the post, but I thought our guys were competing and they're difficult to guard. This was one of our most consistent and well rounded performances all year. 

"We are getting healthier, we have a nice rotation going, we're deep, and we're talented," he said. "When we keep things simple and we guard with discipline, I think we have a chance to be a pretty good basketball team." 

Williams now prepares to take on rival Amherst at home on Wednesday at 8 p.m., while Hamilton will next take on Elmira at 7 p.m. on Jan. 31.  

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