LEXINGTON, VA. -- No. 5 Williams College held off a tough-minded Washington College team Sunday as four players scored in double figures en route to a 84-76 win at the Washington & Lee Tournament.
The Ephs (8-1) advance to play host Washington & Lee (4-5) in the championship game of the tournament at 4 p.m. Monday.
Junior Hayden Rooke-Ley led all scorers with 23 points while Duncan Robinson came off the bench for 15 points and seniors Taylor Epley and John Weinheimer added 11 each. Washington College first year Bryan Shapiro, who entered the game averaging 4.2 points per game, scored 18 points, all on three-pointers, to tie teammate Tony Hawkins for the team lead.
With seven points in the win Mike Mayer became the 32nd Eph player to score 1,000 points. Mayer now has 1,006.
"It wasn't always pretty tonight, but you have to give our kids a lot of credit for finding a way to win after a long lay-off and not playing our best," said Ephs' head coach Mike Maker. "At the same time, you have to give a lot of credit to Washington College, they are a hard-nosed, blue-collar team that is hard to shake."
The Ephs built a 15-point halftime lead up to 20 in the first two minutes of the second half after Weinheimer scored a lay-up off a Rooke-Ley assist. The Shoremen came back quickly, cutting the lead to 10 (55-45) with 14:22 left after another Shapiro triple.
Williams quickly answered with a 12-0 run that featured back-to-back treys from Robinson and an old-fashioned three-point play from Rooke-Ley that made it 67-48 with 10:49 to go. The Eph lead flucuated between 13 and 18 points for much of the stretch, but the Shoremen rediscovered their touch from the three-point late and cut the deficit to 10 on a Pat Morgan trey with 2:55 left.
After an Epley turnover, Morgan hit a mid-range jumper for make it an eight-point game. Washington College had two possessions to cut the deficit even further, but only resulted in two missed shots and the Ephs pulled away from the foul line in the final minute to win by eight.
"We have a lot of work to do," Maker said. "Especially in terms of taking care of the ball, communicating on defense and converting our free throws."
The Ephs built a 15-point lead by halftime on the strength of superior shooting from both the floor (12 of 18, 66.7 percent) and the foul line (19 of 24, 79.2 percent). Williams took an early 14-5 lead on the strength of a Rooke-Ley three-pointer, a Matt McCreary steal and dunk, and Robinson trey after a block on the defensive end. The Ephs made their first seven field goal attempts of the game.
However the Shoremen were able to stay in the game until late in the half on the strength of some red-hot three-point shooting as they hit on six of their first seven attempts. A Pat Morgan trey made it a 26-24 game with 8:32 left in the half.
The Ephs responded with a 14-2 run that left them up 40-26 with 4:01 to go. Seven of the 14 points came from the foul line as the Ephs attacked the basket both in transition and from their set offense. Weinheimer had four points in the run, and Rooke-Ley finished it off with an old-fashioned three-point play, driving to the hoop and hitting the ensuing foul shot.
"I'm looking forward to the championship game tomorrow," Maker said. "Washington & Lee is a very disciplined, well-coached team and we will have to be at our best."