Ephs Fall to Bowdoin 81-71

Ephs Fall to Bowdoin 81-71

BRUNSWICK, ME—Clutch play by Hugh O'Neil and a 32-point game by Jack Simonds lifted the Bowdoin College Polar Bears (9-6, 1-2) to an 81-71 victory over the Williams College Ephs (12-4, 1-3).

Williams jumped out to an early 5-0 lead, as Bowdoin took the first few minutes to warm up shooting-wise. When they did, however, the Polar Bears roared back behind back-to-back three-pointers by Timothy Ahn. Williams, meanwhile, committed to the three-ball but struggled to knock them down early in the half: six of the Ephs' first seven shots were from long range, of which they made two. After a rollercoaster first six minutes, the teams evened out, punching and counter-punching for most of the half.

Bowdoin repeatedly jumped out to five- or seven-point leads in the half, but Williams always had an answer. A three-pointer by David Reynolds and a second-chance jumper by Hugh O'Neil gave the Polar Bears a five-point margin, but Marcos Soto hit a pair of foul shots for the Ephs, followed a couple possessions later by a Bobby Casey trey to knot the teams back up at 16 halfway through the period.

Bowdoin came right back out with seven unanswered points, a lead they held for a few minutes until three-pointers by James Heskett and Cole Teal evened the score at 29 with four minutes to play. Jack Simonds sunk four straight free throws and Jack Hewit got a layup to fall to reassert a Bowdoin lead, but foul shots by Bobby Casey and another trey by Heskett kept the game in hand. A three-pointer by Cole Teal with thirteen seconds to play gave Williams a three-point edge going into the half.

Bowdoin, however, immediately erased their slight deficit out of the half, putting up seven straight points to open the second half behind Hugh O'Neil and Jack Simonds. Williams slowly clawed back from this four-point deficit, finding their stroke from behind the arc: James Heskett cut the margin to one with a trey off an inbounds play, while Dan Aronowitz nailed back-to-back threes to put the Ephs up 51-48 with five minutes elapsed in the half.

Bowdoin, who shot 54.5% from the field and a solid 41.7% from three-point in the second half, continued their pattern from the first half of jumping in front with mini-runs, immediately answering Aronowitz's treys with an 11-3 run spearheaded by Jack Simonds.

Williams crept back and even took the lead on a Mike Greenman three-pointer, but Simonds maintained his dominance for the Polar Bears, sinking back-to-back deep threes and forcing a Williams timeout. Another three by Neil Fuller gave Bowdoin a six-point lead with around five minutes to play, and Williams was unable to equalize after this streak of nine unanswered points.

Dan Aronowitz cut the lead to three with a three-point play, but Hugh O'Neil hit consecutive baseline jumpers to maintain Bowdoin's advantage as time ticked down. After Williams was forced to foul in the final minute, Jack Bors and Tim Ahn hit their foul shots while Williams's final shots wouldn't fall. The score sat at 81-71 at the final buzzer.

The story of the game was Bowdoin's sophomore phenom Jack Simonds, who came into the contest averaging over 22 points per game but put up 32 against the Ephs. Simonds received help from Neil Fuller's ten points and Hugh O'Neil's double-double of 10 points and 11 rebounds. Daniel Aronowitz led Williams with 17 points, with James Heskett and Cole Teal also in double figures.

Williams shot well from long distance on the game, making 41.2% of their three-point attempts, but they only shot 42.4% in total. Bowdoin, meanwhile, did the opposite, capitalizing on their second-half success to shot 50.8% from the field and 38.1% from three-point. Additionally, the Polar Bears significantly out-rebounded the Ephs, 40-27, and they converted on their eleven offensive rebounds, notching fifteen second-chance points compared to the Ephs' four.

"We're disappointed we lost," Williams head coach Kevin App said after the game. "Our guys played hard and competed, but defensively we weren't sound. We had some good stretches of high intensity play, but we got away from our principles on defense."

Coach App acknowledged the success of Bowdoin's offensive attack, saying "To their credit, they made some tough shots, and when they did it got to our heads. We tried to do more instead of making them take more hard shots."

Williams returns to the court January 20 against Hamilton in Clinton, while Bowdoin will next see action against Amherst on the same day.

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