WILLIAMSTOWN, MA – The Williams College Ephs defeated the Becker Hawks in the second round of the NCAA tournament today. The win moves the Ephs to 27-2 on the year while the Hawks finish their season at 24-5. With the 84-63 win, the Ephs move on to the Sweet Sixteen.
After the Hawks started the game with the lead, the Ephs took control at the 13:04 mark behind a swooshed 3-pointer from Jordan Mickens from the top left. On the following Eph possession, guard Nate Robertson drove to the hoop for two. When James Klemm pulled up and nailed an open 3-ball from the top right to give the Ephs the 18-13 lead, Becker was forced to use its first timeout of the half with 11:30 to play.
Out of the timeout, Ricky Clark hit a 3-pointer for the Hawks from the top left to make it a one-possession game. Klemm responded with his third long ball of the half to push the lead back to five. At the ten-minute mark, Rajai Leggett swooshed a pull-up jumper and a few possessions later, Terrance Favors added a jump shot of his own. With just over 6:30 to play, Moody Doherty knocked the ball out of the reach of the Ephs out of bounds. When the Ephs got the ball back, though, he stole it and finished the layup in transition off a pass.
With the Hawks within two with 3:34 left to play, first-year Hayden Rooke-Ley drove to the hoop and passed the ball off to Troy Whittington, who finished the pretty play with a bucket. Just over a minute later, Klemm nailed a 3-ball from the top left. With just over a minute to play, Wang sunk a long ball from downtown to push the lead to double digits, and 30 seconds later, first-year Taylor Epley swooshed a 3-ball from the left corner. It looked like the Ephs might take the 13-point lead into the locker rooms, but off an inbound play with 3.3 seconds left, Favors swooshed a 3-ball with a hand in his face to cut the lead back to ten and give the Hawks some momentum going into the break.
A few possessions later, Doherty received the ball in transition for the Hawks and finished; Tyler Roberson then added a long two from the corner to cut the Ephs' lead to 14. Off of a missed one-and-one opportunity for the Ephs, though, with 11:48 on the clock, Harlan Dodson put back the rebound to add to the Eph lead.
The Hawks continued to fight. Doherty stole the ball in the backcourt and finished in transition; he then hit both opportunities from the free throw line to cut the Eph lead to 11. When Roberson swooshed a 3-pointer from the top right at the 6:42 mark, Robertson responded with a 3-ball for the Ephs from the left side 30 seconds later to push the lead back to 13. With 5:10 to play, Epley swooshed a three from the right corner as well. Becker fought until the end as Roberson swooshed yet another three in response, but it was too little too late, and the Ephs walked off the court and into the Sweet Sixteen.
Said Coach Mike Maker after the game, "I told our guys that toughness and intelligence would help us win this game. They're physical, extremely athletic and very well coached and disciplined. I thought our toughness was the difference in the game."
Leading the way for the Ephs tonight were Wang and Rooke-Ley with 20 points. 15 of Rooke-Ley's came in the second half. The Ephs shot 50.0% from the field.
Said Rooke-Ley after the game about being a first-year with such a performance, "I've felt comfortable in this system for a while now. I obviously thank Coach for keep running me out there ups and downs, so I've felt comfortable. I feel like a teammate. I don't really think about class[year]… I just go out there and play basketball."
Favors had 16 points for the Hawks this evening. The Hawks shot 32.4% from the field on the night.
Said Becker head coach Brian Gorman after the game, "I'd be remiss if I didn't say how proud I was of the effort of my kids, of my seniors [and] what they've accomplished in four years at Becker College, going 3-23 the year before they were here and going 24-5 [this year] and making it to the second round [of NCAA's]."
Said Coach Maker after the game, "We beat a tough-minded, very good basketball team today, and we earned the right to advance."
NCAA play continues next week. The Ephs do not yet know whom they will face.
GAME NOTES: With his eight rebounds tonight, Troy Whittington moved into 7th on the Ephs' all-time rebounding list. He passed Mike Holland '98 (547). Whittington's rebounds total 552.