LEWISTON, ME -- After dropping their first loss of the season last week to Amherst, the Ephs (14-1, 1-0 NESCAC) were in top shape as they returned to competition today against Bates (8-7, 0-1 NESCAC). In their first NESCAC game of the year, the Ephs defeated the Bobcats 68-50.
Said Coach Mike Maker about starting off league-play with a win, "It's always nice to start off league play with a victory particularly on the road in a hostile environment against a team that is very well-coached and tough. This was a hard-fought contest; we had to earn it, and I thought we played extremely well."
The game proved close at the start, but the Ephs were able to go on a 10-0 run starting with a 3-pointer from Harlan Dodson with 14:52 to play in the first half. From that point forward, the Ephs stayed out front of the Bobcats. Although Bates was able to cut the lead to six behind three foul shots from Brian Ellis with just over seven minutes to play, the Ephs continued to add to their lead, and the teams entered the locker rooms with a 34-23 Eph lead.
In the second half, the Ephs continued to dominate. Williams started the second half with a 12-1 run led by a 3-pointer and a jump shot from James Wang, a jump shot from James Klemm, a layup from Bryan Emerson, and a 3-pointer from first-year Hayden Rooke-Ley to top off the run. Although the Bobcats were able to cut the lead to 14 on the shoulders of Ellis, the Ephs continued to push for the entire 40 minutes to come away with their first league victory.
Leading the way for the Ephs this evening was Wang with 21 points. Troy Whittington, who returned to the lineup after missing four games due to an injury, had a double double with 14 points and 10 rebounds; he went 5-for-6 from the field. Coach Maker commented on the return of his star center following the win: "He's a vocal leader for us and obviously a premiere player nationally. I think [his return] lifted the spirit of the guys. He's a presence on the floor and in the locker room. I'm just happy for him; it's his final year. Senior years are special. To see him come back and play at a high level after missing four games, the team was very happy for him." Klemm also had 10 points for the Ephs. As a team, the Ephs shot 52.1% from the field.
On the defensive end, the Ephs were able to hold Bates to 28.6% shooting. Said Coach Maker about the Ephs' defensive game, "I've been saying it all year; I think … we continue to grow defensively. I think the challenge for our team defensively is limiting second chance points. Overall our defensive field goal percentage has been excellent… I think our team is committed to that end of the floor. We play very good team defense with a lot of communication. If we stay true to our concepts, we could be pretty good." The Bobcats were led by Ellis with 23 points. No other Bobcat was in double digits.
The Ephs continue league play tomorrow at Tufts at 2:00. Said Coach Maker looking towards tomorrow, "We're going to have a challenge tomorrow and a short turnaround at Tufts. Hopefully, [we] will finish the weekend with what our goal was, and that is to get two in a row."