WILLIAMSTOWN, MA – The Williams College Ephs defeated the Salem State Vikings (1-1) today 91-61 in the championship game of the Williams Tip-Off tournament. Southern Vermont and Coast Guard faced off in the consolation game of the tournament earlier in the day; see below for details on that game. With the win, the Ephs (2-0) landed Daniel Wohl on the all-tournament team and Michael Mayer as tournament MVP. Justin Nieves of Salem State, Greg Marshall of Coast Guard, and Taeshon Johnson of Southern Vermont were also named to the all-tournament team.
The Ephs and Vikings started out in a pretty even matchup, but the Ephs began to pull away several minutes into the first half. The Ephs gained a lead, but after the Vikings pulled within one, Taylor Epley had a beautiful drive to the hoop for the Ephs. He was fouled on the play and converted the three-point opportunity. Down the other end of the court, Wohl had a huge block for the Ephs that resulted in Nate Robertson taking the ball the length of the court for two and the 21-15 lead with just over ten to play. Wohl then had a beautiful pull-up jumper from the left elbow to push the Eph lead to eight.
The Vikings, however, refused to go away quietly. After a pair of Nate Simpson free throws, Nieves hit a huge three from the top of the key. Simpson then scored inside and was fouled. He was unable to convert from the charity space, but his hoop pulled Salem State within one with 6:26 on the clock.
The Ephs responded when Epley converted a three-point play in the paint, and James Klemm swooshed a transition three from the top right to make the score 30-22. While Hanell Velez hit a pretty baseline three for the Mountaineers, Mayer nailed one from the top left on the next possession, and the Ephs continued to hold onto the decisive lead for the rest of the half.
Nieves had 11 points in the opening frame for the Mountaineers; Mayer had 11 for the Ephs, and Wohl and Epley each added ten.
Out of the break, the Ephs continued to add to their lead with a bucket apiece from Mayer, Klemm, and John Weinheimer. A pretty three from Simpson from the top right part of the key cut the lead to 15, but the Ephs continued to push at both ends of the court – making pretty passes to the inside for easy lay-ups and playing tough defense that forced outside shots from Salem State. The Vikings continued to play hard for the rest of the half but could not gain back their momentum from the opening minutes, and the Ephs walked off the field with the win.
Epley and Mayer each had 17 points for the Ephs today. Mayer posted a double double with 13 rebounds as well. Wohl also had a double double for the Ephs with 14 points and ten rebounds. Leading the way for the Vikings was Nieves with 15.
Said Coach Mike Maker after the game about Wohl and Mayer, "Both of them are long, skilled, and aggressive. I've talked about Michael a lot with regards to how important he is to this basketball program and where I think he ranks as one of the best centers to ever play here. Daniel Wohl keeps blossoming with every game. He gets better, better, and better, and he gets more confident. He's a versatile player for us. He plays numerous positions and adds a lot to our basketball team."
Added Maker about his team's defense, "A lot of people talk about our offense. This year, I think our team is about our defense, and we've proven that two games in a row. We played zone for the entire second half; we've never done that before… I think that's something with our length that will be very good to us in the future."
The Ephs return to the court on Tuesday to take on Little Three rival Wesleyan. Tip-off is set for 7:00 PM.
Looking ahead, Maker said, "Wesleyan is a terrific basketball team. Coach Reilly has done a wonderful job. If they're not one of the most talented teams in the league, they are the most talented team in the league this year. They're senior-dominated; they have a lot of good players, and they're well-coached. We're looking forward to the opportunity to play them on Tuesday.
Below are more details from today's first match-up.
The Coast Guard Bears (1-1) defeated the Southern Vermont Mountaineers (0-2) today in the consolation game of the Williams Tip-Off Tournament 68-57.
The two teams proved evenly matched off of the opening jump, and neither team was able to pull away throughout the first half. After Taeshon Johnson hit a nice long ball from the top left part of the key for the Mountaineers to make it 26-24, the Bears got some momentum from Greg Marshall as he drove to the hoop to tie the game up and then had a beautiful three ball from the top right. Eli Sponseller then took a defensive rebound the length of the court for the Bears to give them a three-point lead.
Johnson, however, refused to go away for the Mountaineers as he had a pretty pull-up jumper from the left elbow to break a nearly three-minute field goal drought for Southern Vermont at the 3:15 mark. Joe Whitman responded for the Bears with a similar shot before Johnson sunk a jumper from the left baseline. The final minutes of the half passed with continued back-and-forth play, and the Mountaineers went into the locker room with the 35-33 lead.
Johnson led the way in the half with 15 points for Southern Vermont while Marshall posted 11 for the Bears.
Out of the break, the two teams once again traded buckets, but Southern Vermont eventually pushed its lead to six behind a pretty long ball and a pair of free throws from Tavaris Jenkins and another pair from Travis Severs. Ryan McNeil hit a long two for the Bears to end a five-minute scoring drought, and Sponseller hit a set of free throws to pull within two, but Southern Vermont continued to hang on to the lead.
The Bears charged to the lead, however, with 6:31 left in the game. After Marshall finished on a bucket, Coast Guard forced an offensive foul and gained back the momentum. Marshall then finished on the resulting possession before Jimmy Knusden hit a fall-away baseline jumper to take the 55-54 lead and force a Southern Vermont timeout. Out of the break, Jenkins sunk a long three while falling down to take back the lead before David Anderson finished with a pretty spin move in the paint to tie the game back up.
Jenkins's three was the Mountaineers' final bucket of the game, though, as the Bears held them scoreless in the final 5:51 and secured the victory behind hoops from Knusden and Anderson and free throws down the stretch.
Johnson led the way for the Mountaineers with 20 points in the contest; Anderson led all scorers with 26 points.