Southern Vermont edges Ephs with late rally, 88-87

Southern Vermont edges Ephs with late rally, 88-87

NORTH ADAMS, MA – The Southern Vermont Mountaineers (1-0) upset the Williams Ephs (0-1) tonight 88-87 in the Williams Tip-Off Tournament. The Mountaineers went on a 6-1 run in the final minute to top the Ephs, who are currently ranked third in the country.

After the Mountaineers jumped out to the early lead, the Ephs began to take over behind Daniel Wohl, who scored 14 of the Ephs' first 23 points including 14 of 16 between 16:43 and 14:37.  Wohl hit a baseline three-pointer to give the Ephs the 20-12 lead nearly eight minutes into the half.  After Southern Vermont was unable to convert out of a timeout, he added another long ball from the top-of-the-key to make it 23-12. The Mountaineers, however, got back in the game with a finish in the paint from DeShawn Hamlet and a long-ball from Rayshawn Taylor.

After Taylor took a charge for the Mountaineers, Dolape Olugbile finished inside. However, Taylor Epley made a pair of free throws to push the Eph lead back to seven at 26-19, but Olugbile finished inside and was fouled.  He hit the ensuing free throw to cut the lead to four before Davante Jordan finished off of an Eph turnover to cut it to 26-24 just over halfway through the first half.

Following a 1-for-2 performance from the line by Wohl, the Mountaineers tied the game up at 29 all with 7:57 left to play on a put-back from Hamlet.  He was fouled on the play and converted the three-point opportunity. Antoine White gave the Mountaineers the 31-29 lead with a pretty floater before Epley hit a pair of free throws to tie the game back up at 31 all. With the shot clock winding down, White drove to the hoop and finished to gain the lead again, but the Mountaineers sent the Ephs back to the line on the ensuing possession.  Hayden Rooke-Ley hit both opportunities from the charity space.

The two teams traded hoops for much of the rest of the half, but the Mountaineers looked like they might take a decisive lead going into halftime.  With two minutes left on the clock, Travis Severs banked a long=ball from the top left part of the key to give the Mountaineers the 45-40 lead. Izzy Melton then went 1-for-2 from the line to push the lead to six.  Wohl responded yet again for the Ephs.  After missing an open three, he hustled under the basket. Wohl was credited with the offensive board, and he finished the lay-up in traffic to make it 46-42 with less than a minute left. Neither team was able to score in the remaining time, and the Mountaineers entered the locker room with the four-point lead.

Wohl led the way for both teams in the opening frame with 19 points for the Ephs.  Hamlet was the only Mountaineer in double digits with 11.

White started off the second half with a finish in the paint for Southern Vermont, but Michael Mayer responded with one of his own on the ensuing Eph possession.  Olugbile hit a long three from the top-of-the-key to push the lead to seven. Mayer responded for the Ephs with a finish inside. He was fouled and converted the three-point play to cut the lead to 51-47. After Wohl went 1-for-2 from the charity space, Duncan Robinson nailed a three-ball from the left corner to tie the game up at 51 all just over two-and-a-half minutes into the second half.  Eddie Mack III responded for the Mountaineers with a three-ball of his own, but Robinson hit another to keep the game all tied up.

After trading hoops for several minutes, the Ephs finally took the lead at 65-62 with a three-ball from Wohl at the 13:53 mark. In response, Olugbile finished inside for the Mountaineers.  Mayer finished a put-back to give the Ephs the three-point lead, but they were unable to expand it as Olugbile backed down his defender in the paint for a bucket. Melton went 1-for-2 from the line to tie the game up at 67-67 with 9:33 left to play. After an Eph turnover, Hamlet caught his defender in the air and drove baseline.  He made the little pass to Melton, who finished the lay-up to take back the lead for the Mountaineers. Epley responded for the Ephs with a lay-up of his own.

After the two teams traded hoops, the Ephs started to take over with an 11-0 run beginning at the 7:57 mark with a lay-up from Mayer.  The rest of the run consisted of a lay-up apiece from Wohl and Mayer and a pretty put-back from Robinson.  Robinson then went 1-for-2 from the line, and Epley added a pair of free throws before Hamlet ended the Ephs' run with a pretty lay-up off of an inbound pass from under the basket with 3:57 left to play.

The Mountaineers rallied with 2:30 on the clock.  With the Ephs up 83-75, Taylor knocked down a three before finishing a pretty jumper from the elbow to cut the lead to three.  On the ensuing possession, Olugbile had a huge block on Mayer, but the Ephs got the ball out of bounds.  Rooke-Ley missed an open three but Robinson collected the loose ball and passed inside to Mayer, who was fouled on the shot. Mayer went 1-for-2 from the charity space to give the Ephs the 84-80 lead with 1:15 left in the game. Taylor hit a pair of free throws for the Mountaineers, but Rooke-Ley calmly hit a pair of his own to keep the Ephs up four. 

Despite the four-point deficit, the Mountaineers continued to push. Taylor finished in the paint, and the Ephs couldn't convert on their next possession – giving the Mountaineers a chance to tie up the game, which they did with a pair of free throws from Hamlet with 27 second to play. However, they fouled the Ephs on the inbound play.  Rooke-Ley went 1-for-2 from the charity space – leaving the Ephs with just a one-point lead and the Mountaineers with the chance for the final possession. Hamlet drove to the hoop for two and missed but got his own offensive rebound and was fouled. He calmly went to the line for two with three seconds on the clock and made them both.

The Ephs called a timeout to work up their final play. Wohl took the ball out of bounds for the Ephs and attempted to throw it the length of the court.  His pass hit the ceiling, resulting in a Mountaineer possession instead.  Brandon Casella was fouled on the inbound play and went to the line for a one-and-one opportunity.  He missed the front end but hustled to get the rebound, which went out of bounds off of his leg.  The Ephs' attempt at an in-bound pass went off the ceiling yet again, and the Mountaineers held the ball for the final second.

Wohl led all scorers with 30 points; he narrowly missed a double-double with nine rebounds. Mayer recorded a double-double with 19 points and 15 rebounds.  First-year Robinson went 5-for-6 from the field for 13 points, and Epley rounded out the double-digits club with 13 of his own. The Ephs were 50.0% from the field this evening.

Leading the way for Mountaineers was Hamlet. Olugbile added 16, and Taylor and Melton added 12 and 10 respectively. The Mountaineers shot 50.7% tonight; however, they took 17 more shots than the Ephs.

Said head Coach Mike Maker after the game, "I don't think we did the things we are accustomed to doing.  I did not think we made wise decisions down the stretch with a three-possession lead with two-and-a-half minutes to go.  I thought we got beat to a lot of fifty-fifty balls.  We have to get better at protecting the rim defensively and certainly making better decisions on offense.  We scored enough points to win; we just didn't get enough stops, and we didn't make good decisions on the offensive end."

He commented: "You have to give a lot of credit to Southern Vermont. I thought they deserved to win.  I thought they played with more energy and intelligence and spirit than we did.  Congratulations to them.  Obviously we have a long way to go to get where we want to go.  There's nothing wrong with getting knocked down.  I told our team, there's something wrong when you don't get back up. We hope we can respond favorably tomorrow and put out  play on the floor that is more representative of what we're looking for because today that wasn't it. I take full responsibility as the coach – I did not have our team ready to play, and they did. You've got to give them a lot of credit."

Added Coach Maker about Wohl's stellar performance, "Daniel gets overshadowed because we've had so many other quality players with a lot of recognition.  Our staff – and I know his teammates – feel that arguably he is maybe our most complete player.  We ask him to do a lot.  I thought he played sensationally and carried us in a lot of ways and gave us a shot to win the game with his effort. He's really blossomed into a terrific basketball player.  Hopefully, he can remain consistent; I know our staff and his teammates have a lot of confidence in him."  

Both team return to the court tomorrow to finish out the tournament. Southern Vermont will take on Rutgers-Newark at 1:00 PM at MCLA.  The Ephs will face Salem State in home court Chandler gymnasium at 7:30. 

For more information on this evening's first game between Salem State and Rutgers-Newark, please see below.


The Salem State Vikings (1-0) defeated the Rutgers-Newark Scarlet Raiders (0-1) 93-88 tonight in the opening game of the Williams Tip-Off Tournament. The Vikings went up by double-digits in the first half, but the Scarlet Raiders rallied in the second – even taking the lead halfway through. 

Up eight just under eight minutes into the game, the Vikings started to take control behind Andrew White.  White hit a three-ball from the top of the key and then stole the ball and took it the length of the court.  He finished the dunk for the easy two to give Salem State the 23-10 lead and force a Rutgers-Newark timeout with 12:01 left to play. Out of the timeout, Allen Kuiper hit a jumper to cut the lead to eleven; however, the Vikings continue to add to their lead.

After trading hoops for several minutes, the Scarlet Raiders cut the deficit to single digits when Jordan McDaniel hit both ends of a one-and-one with eight-and-a-half minutes left to play. After a Viking turnover, McDaniel finished a lay-up to cut it to 31-25.  White hit two free throws for Salem to push the lead back to eight, and the Vikings eventually made the lead ten with a nice put-back by Ryan Salvador with just over five on the clock.  Down the other end, though, John Snow was fouled in the lane and converted the three-point play to make it 37-30.

The Vikings then found themselves on a 13-3 run capped by a pair of free throws and a beautiful off-balanced three from the top left part of the key from Bryan Ortiz to make it 50-33 with two minutes left to play.  Snow finally swooshed a three ball for the Scarlet Raiders to end the run.  Rutgers-Newark was unable to cut the lead to single digits and went into the break down 54-41.

Ortiz scored 18 points in the opening frame for the Vikings, while White added 12.  Snow led the Scarlet Raiders with 14, and McDaniel scored 12.

The Scarlet Raiders opened the 2nd half with a bucket by Snow, and then another finish by Doze Ikwuegbu, bringing Salem State's lead to single digits at 54-45.  Snow continued the run with a lay-up off an in-bounds pass, but Salem State's Akanni put an end to it with a floater after a foul, putting the score at 58-49.

The margin hovered around nine for the next several minutes, as the teams traded buckets until a layup from Snow off the fast break cut the Viking lead to 63-57 with 12:00 remaining. Christian Garcia capitalized on the momentum with a jumper from the baseline and Snow hit another shot from the left side to cut the lead to two. The Scarlet Raiders took the lead and forced a timeout with a beautiful three-pointer from Chris Foreman with 10:26 to go in the contest. Neither team could gain traction over the next several minutes as they exchanged mostly free throws.

With Rutgers-Newark up 75-74 with four minutes remaining, Bryan Ortiz hit a three from the right side out of a timeout to give Salem State the two-point lead. Chris Foreman answered for the Scarlet Raiders with another three-pointer from the top of the key. After the two teams traded points, Salem State guard Hamed Akanni hit two free throws and then finished in the paint to put the Vikings up 81-78 with two minutes remaining. The Vikings then forced a five-second violation which resulted in an Andrew White lay-up to give Salem State a five point lead.  Despite hard play from the Scarlet Raiders, they were unable pull within three for the rest of the contest.

Ortiz led the way for the Vikings with 25 points. Akanni added a double-double with 20 points and 10 rebounds. Snow notched a double-double for Rutgers-Newark with 26 points and 12 boards. The Scarlet Raiders were also helped by a strong performance by Christopher Garcia, who had 22 points and eight rebounds.


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