Williamstown, MA - In a display of offensive firepower, Williams men's basketball outgunned Colby-Sawyer, 101-88, to win the Purple and Gold Invitational title and move to 11-1 on the season. The Ephs were able to overcome 33 points from Jon Chaloux and 50% shooting from the field from the Chargers with an impressive 59% shooting effort from the field and a 36-41 (88%) effort from the line. Leading Eph-scorer Blake Schultz scored more than 20 for the first time in four games as he poured in 30 points on the game and earned tournament MVP honors.
Neither team was able to seize control for much of the first, as no team led by more than 4 points for the first 16 minutes of the half. However, after a Chaloux lay up with 3:48 to play made the score 37-35 in favor of Williams, the Ephs pushed into high gear on the defensive end and took control of the game; Williams outscored Colby 10-2 over the last 3:30 of the half to enter half time with a 47-39 lead.
The Ephs shot 54% from the field and went 14-15 from the line in the first, while the Chargers shot 48% from the floor and made 5-6 free throws. The Ephs scoring was very balanced in the first; 9 of 14 first half field goals were assisted as eight players scored four or more points, with Schultz scoring 9 and Alex Rubin scoring 8 to lead the way. Chaloux scored 14 in the first for the Chargers, and Jason Chevrefils added 9.
The second half brought an even more impressive offensive display from both sides, as Williams put up 54 points on 65% shooting and Colby scored 49 on 53% shooting. The Ephs stretched their lead to as many as 16 in the half, going up 87-61 with 5:42 left to play before the Chargers fought back behind a slew of threes. The score was 93-85 with 1:35 remaining when the Chargers started fouling in an effort to extend the game; they came as close as seven points, but the Ephs closed the game out behind excellent free-throw shooting.
James Wang and Schultz were the keys to the Eph offense in the second twenty minutes, combining to score 40 of 53 Williams second half points as Wang scored 19 on 6-8 shooting to finish with a total of 23 on the day and Schultz scored 21 while going 5-6 from the field and a perfect 11-11 from the free throw line. Rubin was the only other Eph in double digits on the game, finishing with 15 points and going 4-5 from the field; along with Schultz, he was named to the All-Tournament team.
Chaloux went 13-20 from the field and hit 5 threes in the game to finish with 33, while also leading the Chargers in rebounding with 5, and was named to the All-Tournament team. Chevrefils finished the day with 14, and David Rosso scored 13 second-half points and 15 points total on the game.
"I am pleased with where we are," said Head Coach Mike Maker. "Our senior leadership was absolutely outstanding. I thought both teams had difficulty guarding one another. The offensive efficiency was very apparent. We beat a good basketball team today - they are tough and very well coached. Make no mistake, this is one of the better wins we have had in Chandler Gymnasium. It's gratifying to be 11-1 with our archrival [Amherst] coming up on Saturday."
"It's a team game," he continued when asked about the
performances of Schultz and Wang.
"We've had many contributions from a lot of players, but both [Blake and James] are difficult to guard because they can get their own shot, as can Chaloux ... they are three of the premier players in New England, and they showed it tonight."
While Maker was pleased with the win in general, he thought that the Ephs needed significant improvement on the defensive end. "We are going to need to get better on the defensive end if we are going to have the kind of year we want," he said. "We are going to need a lot of improvement defensively. I think offensively certainly we have been able to generate good opportunities and score lots of points. The challenge for us is going to be collectively can we defend with intelligence and passion and a commitment to owning the glass."
The Ephs will now take on archrival Amherst on Saturday at 4 p.m. in Chandler Gymnasium in a game that will not count toward the NESCAC standings but will nevertheless lead to a packed gym.
"We are going to take tomorrow off, because we have had 10 straight days together," said Maker. "As always, we are looking forward to the opportunity to play them. They are very talented and well coached, and it will be a great environment. We are looking forward to the challenge, and we have a lot of work to do in order to prepare for a very very good basketball team."
All Tournament Team
Blake Schultz, G, Williams, Tournament MVP - 19.5 ppg, 3 rpg, 3 apg
Alex Rubin, G, Williams - 15 ppg, 73% shooting, 3.5 3pg
Jon Chaloux, F, Colby-Sawyer - 22.5 ppg, 5 rpg, 2 bpg
Maurice Horton, G/F, Worcseter State - 27 ppg, 9.5 rpg, 10 apg
Cortez Issac, G, Southern Maine - 23.5 ppg