WILLIAMSTOWN, MA -- The Ephs continued their strong play in NESCAC this evening as they took on Connecticut College (8-8, 0-3 NESCAC). This evening's matchup was the team's first league game at home. The Ephs (16-1, 3-0 NESCAC) pulled away in the middle of the first half, and the game ended with a score of 91-52.
Said Coach Mike Maker after the game about getting the Ephs' first league win at home, "It's always great to play at home. We're real[ly] comfortable in Chandler. When we get the support of our student body and community, it [makes] our guys energized, and I thought we fed off that [tonight] and played inspired basketball for 40 minutes."
The game started close, but it looked as if the Ephs might pull away after Nate Robertson took a charge with 16:09 to play in the half and followed it up with a hoop just under forty seconds later. He was fouled and made the following free throw. After James Klemm hit a three to give the Ephs the five-point lead, Matt Vadas knocked down a 3-pointer of his own with a hand in his face to cut the lead back to two.
The Ephs, however, were overpowering offensively. At the 12:10 mark, Hayden Rooke-Ley rebounded the ball on the defensive end and took it the length of the court to finish with a layup. The Camels were forced to call timeout when the hoop pushed the Eph lead to eight. A few possessions later, it looked as if Connecticut might gain momentum after Brian Mahoney cut the double-digit lead to nine. Troy Whittington, however, responded in his usual manner – finishing a layup while being fouled and the resulting free throw. Rooke-Ley then added a 3-pointer off of a pass from James Wang to push the lead to 15 while forcing Connecticut to call its third timeout of the half.
The timeout was not enough to stop the Ephs' momentum as Klemm hit a 3-pointer and Robertson took the ball the length of the court and finished with a layup shortly after the break. At the 4:02 mark, the Camels called their fourth and final timeout of the half with the Ephs up 20. To end the half – and add salt to the Camels' wounds - Jordan Mickens knocked down a three from the left corner as time expired. Despite great passing combinations from the Camels, the Ephs went into the locker room with a 49-22 lead.
In the first half, Connecticut's highlight was Vadas who led all scorers in the half with 14 points. He knocked down four threes and went 2-for-2 from the free throw line. Two Eph players were in double digits in the half as well: Whittington had 11 points and Rooke-Ley added 12 for the Ephs.
In the second half, the Ephs continued on their run. Behind 12 points from Michael Mayer – including two 3-pointers – and another pair of threes from Parker McClelland, the Ephs were able to push the lead to as many as forty before time expired.
Leading the way this evening for the Ephs was Rooke-Ley with 16 points. Whittington added 14, and Klemm and Mayer were in double digits as well – each contributing 12 points. Every Eph player scored this evening. Overall, Williams shot 60.0% on the night.
Said Coach Maker about his team's balanced offense, "As a coach, you're always pleased when you can get everyone in the game. We have a deep bench, just not one large in numbers. When we come off the bench, we don't drop off very much. We have a lot of talented guys, who haven't had the opportunity to perform, particularly in a league game. Hopefully, those minutes played will serve us well once we go deeper into the season.
Vadas was the only Camel player in double digits with 15 points. Connecticut went just 31.6% from the field.
Said Coach Maker about the Ephs' defensive efforts, "We're second in the country in defensive field goal percentage, and we take a lot of pride in that. Our guys are highly intelligent and pay attention to scout and personnel. The more that we communicate on defense, the better we'll get."
Coach Maker also commented on his team's growth: "We've gained a lot of experience over the course of the first semester and now that we're in January term. We're a much different basketball team than we were in early December. We have five underclassmen logging a lot of minutes, and they've raised their level of play, which makes us a better basketball team."
The Ephs continue at home with league play tomorrow as they take on Little Three rival Wesleyan. Tip-off is 2:00. The Ephs defeated Wesleyan earlier in the year 80-76 after coming from behind.