February 3, 2012

Ephs top White Mules 76-51, improve to 16-5 on the season

WILLIAMSTOWN, MA - James Wang scored a season-high 27 points on 10-17 shooting to lead Williams men's basketball to a 76-51 victory over Colby in tonight's NESCAC contest. The Ephs improved to 16-5 on the season and 4-3 in the NESCAC with the win, while the White Mules fell to 6-14 on the year and 1-6 in the conference. 

"[Wang]'s mom is here from around the globe - she came in from Taiwain," Williams head coach Mike Maker said. "His brother is here. I think he had a little extra pep in his step. He sees the hourglass dwindling down. You gotta give that kid a lot of credit - what an unbeleivale career he has had. He'll never say it, but he had major back surgery in the fall and he never talks about it. The contributions speak for themselves, he's a special young man, he's tough as nails, and I wouldn't trade him."

The story of the game was the Ephs' three-point shooting. Williams went 18-39 from three, and although Wang had five two-point field goals on a variety of drives to the lane, only one other Eph hit a shot from inside the arc. 

Eric Beaulieau led the Mules with 14 points. Ben Foreman and Connor O'Neil joined Beaulieau in double figures with 12 and 11 points, respectively. The highlight of the game came from the White Mules as well, when Kyle Donovan hammered home a dunk in the second half after getting fouled. Donovan led the Mules with six rebounds.

Along with Wang, James Klemm had an excellent night for the Ephs, going 6-10 from three en route to 18 points. Taylor Epley also broke double figures with 13 points - all of which came in the second half - and Brian Emerson picked up a game high 10 rebounds fro the Ephs. 

Colby was able to keep the game tight throughout the early going. Klemm hit two catch-and-shoot threes from the left wing to give the Ephs a 6-0 lead 1:30 into the game before Colby went on a 7-0 run on their own behind two buckets from Beaulieu. The Ephs quickly bounced back, as Nate Robertson hit a three with 16:16 to start an 11-3 run over the next two minutes that gave the Ephs a lead they would not return.

Colby hung around, however, pulling back within four when Daniel Chase hit a three with 11:40 to play in the half that made the score 20-16. Wang responded for the Ephs with two dizzying drives to put Williams up eight, 24-16, with just over 10 minutes remaining in the half. The Ephs looked as though they would go on a run to take command, but the Mules hung tough, staying within 11as the teams traded scores over the remainder of the half. Beaulieu hit a free throw with 56 seconds to play that made the score 36-26, and the teams entered the lockerroom with Williams up by that 10 point margin.

Colby came out with a spark out of the break, forcing three turnovers and a missed field goal while going on a 7-0 run to start the half; they pulled within three when O'Neil hit a shot from behind the arc 2:10 into the half to make the score 36-33. Williams called timeout, sparking an 8-0 run of their own that gave the Ephs a 44-33 lead with 15:47 to play in the game.

Colby stayed within striking distance for the next four minutes before Williams finally took control of the game. With the score 51-39, Klemm hit a three from the top of the key with 11:22 to play. The Mules only managed three field goals for the remainder of the game, as Epley hit four threes to help the Ephs outscore the visitors 22-12 in the final 11 minutes, giving Williams the 76-51 victory. 

"I thought we were outstanding," Maker said. "We contiunue to play excellent basketball in every phase of the game. I think over the course of the last couple of weeks we have played as well as anyone in our conference. We played as a team and when we shoot it like [we did tonight] we are difficult to guard."

Maker added praise in particular for seniors ahead of tomorrow's game, which will the Ephs' Senior Day. "You know tomorrow is such a meaningful game because of our senior class. They're so special, and we would like to send them out the right way. Hopefully Chandler will be rocking and the game will be a tribute to the class. They've had a special run, not only with their success on the court but their contributions on our campus and in our community."

Williams now prepares to take on Bowdoin at home tomorrow at 4 p.m. Colby next faces Middlebury tomorrow on the road, also at 4 p.m.