Clinton, NY - Williams men’s basketball finally scored over its season average for the first time away from home tonight in a dominating performance, dropping Hamilton 96-61 in Clinton, NY. The fourth-ranked Ephs are now 18-1 following the victory, its ninth straight and fourth straight on the road. The win betters the 17 that the team won in head coach Mike Maker’s first year at the helm last season. This is in the team’s winningest season since 2003-2004, when the team fell in the NCAA finals.
The Ephs dominated the Continentals (7-8) in every facet of the game, outshooting their opponents 59%-37%, winning the rebound battle 40-20, and assisting on 22 baskets to the Continentals’ 9.
“I think people overlook our defense, which has been excellent,” said Maker. “It is going to need to continue to improve, because our schedule isn’t getting any easier, but it has already improved [greatly] this season.”
Alex Rubin led Williams in scoring with a career-high 22 points, while James Wang went 6-6 from the field and finished the game with 16 points, 7 rebounds, and 6 assists. Co-captain Blake Schultz and Troy Whittington joined Rubin and Wang in double digits with 11 and 10, respectively. It was the third straight game the quartet had all finished in double digits.
“Each of [the quartet] is very talented,” said Maker. “What we have been able to do is have more balanced scoring, and it has made us more dangerous as a team … The more balanced we are on offense the harder well be to guard.”
It was not always clear that the Ephs would run away with the game. The team took control early, jumping out to an 8-0 lead in the first 1:45 of play and forcing Hamilton to call time out. The Continentals then came back, eventually tying the game 12-12 with 15:24 to play in the half. For a time, it appeared as though the game would be close, as the Continentals kept the Eph lead at six or below for the next 11 minutes.
Then the Eph defense stepped up and the Eph offense ignited. Up 35-32 with 4:06 to play, Williams went on a 10-2 run to close the half, going 4-4 from the field in that stretch and allowing the Continentals to make only one shot. The Ephs entered the break leading 47-34.
The team shot 67% from the floor in the first half as Wang and Whittington led the way on the offensive end, scoring 11 and 10 respectively on 9-10 combined shooting from the floor. The Continentals were not completely stymied in the first twenty minutes and were able to remain within striking distance because of 6 threes in the first and 45% shooting overall from the field.
The Continentals were not able to remain in striking distance for long once the second half began; Williams went on a 16-4 run in the first 7:16 of the half, making the score 63-38 and putting the game far out of reach for the home team. The Ephs didn’t take their foot off the gas pedal for the rest of the game, leading by as many as 40, 92-52, with 2:56 to play before the game ended with the 96-61 final tally.
“We played today as well as we’ve played since I have been coach,” said Maker. “I’m not sure we can play better. We played unselfishly, we played freely but within our structure, we played with defensive discipline and guarded deep into shot clock, especially in the second half. This is as pleased as I’ve been in a year and a half [as coach]. It was a total team effort.”
The Ephs now await a contest on the road with no. 8 Middlebury
at 4 pm on Saturday. The game can be seen live online here.