WILLIAMSTOWN -- In the first game of the 2017-18 season, the Williams Ephs (1-0) grinded out an 80-68 victory over the Salem State Vikings (1-1). Junior Kyle Scadlock threw down five two-handed dunks on his way to a career-high 32 points to lead the Ephs.
Scadlock picked up right where he left off in the 2017 NCAA tournament, scoring seven points in the first four minutes including two thunderous dunks. Williams would extend their early lead to 10 at 16-6 lead on a nifty reverse layup by senior Mike Greenman.
Salem State would break the Ephs' early momentum when junior Alex Santos nailed the game's first three-pointer with 14:03 remaining in the half. After a defensive stop, sophomore Sean Bryan hit a three of his own to cut further into the Vikings' deficit.
Despite finding success in and around the hoop, Williams struggled with their outside shooting in the early going. The Ephs missed their first five attempts from long range as Salem State continued to hang around. Finally, with 8:47 left in the half, Santos connected on a three to give the Vikings their first lead of the game at 20-18. After several minutes of back and forth action, Salem State extended their lead to 31-26 on a layup by senior Shaquan Murray with 4:23 on the clock. The five-point cushion was the largest of the half for the Vikings.
Needing to regain momentum on the offense, senior Chris Galvin found sophomore center Matt Karpowicz for an easy and-one layup. The 6' 8" sophomore converted the free throw to make it a one-possession game. On the next offensive possession, Scadlock attacked the basket and earned two free throws. He made both to even the score at 31-31 with 3:12 to go. However, the Vikings would finish the half on a 6-4 run to take a 37-35 lead into the break.
The story of the first half was undoubtedly shooting. Williams struggled to find a rhythm, shooting 12 of 28 (42.8 percent) from the field and 1 of 8 (17.5 percent) from three-point range. With a game already under their belt, the Vikings shot an impressive 14 of 26 (53.8 percent) overall including 7 of 10 (70.0 percent) from three.
"Eight attempted threes in a half is really not a lot for us," said Williams Head Coach Kevin App. "Salem really made us put the ball on the ground. I thought the guys adjusted well and we did a good job of taking what the defense gave us. A lot of those threes in transition were good shots for the right guys, it was first game and we were maybe a little too amped up."
Both teams came out of the locker room looking to push the tempo. The result was four combined turnovers on the first five possessions. Greenman ended the deadlock with a three from the top of the key to give the Ephs a 38-37 lead with 18:45 remaining. The shot galvanized the Ephs who started to take control of the game. Two minutes later, junior Bobby Casey hit two free throws to push the Eph lead to 45-39. But the Vikings would fight to keep their deficit in single digits. Viking junior Temitope Bailey made a layup with 11:38 remaining to pull within four at 51-47.
Three minutes later, Williams looked poised to make a run and open up a comfortable lead. With the score 60-52, Greenman had an open look from the right wing, but his shot caromed off the rim. Following an offensive rebound by Scadlock, Karpowicz got the ball down low but could not convert. Upset with no foul call, the Williams bench was assessed a technical foul. Santos only connected on one of two, but the moment swung the momentum in favor of the Vikings who made shots on back to back possessions to make it 60-57 with 7:13 to play. But Salem State had no answer for Scadlock on the other end. The junior drew a foul and nailed both free throws. The free throws ignited a 10-0 run for the Ephs, which was capped off by a breakaway two-handed jam from Scadlock with 5:26 left. A few minutes later, Eph junior James Heskett nailed a three to give Williams a 76-63 lead with just 1:29 remaining to all but seal the game.
Scadlock led the Ephs with 32 points and 12 rebounds including 16 of 18 from the free throw line. Heskett also had a strong night, adding 21 points and 6 rebounds.
"Last year, Kyle and James knew we could rely on Aronowitz. But they both worked really, really hard in the offseason and have the trust of their teammates to be pretty dynamic players," said Coach App. "They played with that kind of upperclassmen energy and confidence tonight."
Santos and senior Drew Healy led the Vikings with 19 points apiece.
Williams returns to action tomorrow to play the winner of Suffolk University and Stevens Institute at 4 p.m. in Chandler Gymnasium in the finals of the two-day tournament.
"We just need to stick to our defensive principles much better. I didn't think we moved or talked a whole lot on the defensive end tonight. Hopefully we can settle in better tomorrow against a new team," said Coach App.