WILLIAMSTOWN, MA – The Williams men's basketball team defeated the Colby Mules (7-7, 1-3 NESCAC) 69-62 today. With the win, the Ephs (13-2, 3-1) posted a 2-0 weekend in NESCAC play as they defeated Bowdoin 69-64 last night.
Up 16-12, the Mules looked like they might pull away when Sam Willson hit a 3-ball from the top left part of the key. The Ephs responded to the challenge with a swooshed long ball of their own from Hayden Rooke-Ley from the top-of-the-key. On their next possession, Duncan Robinson nailed a 3-pointer from downtown to cut the game to 19-18 with just under nine minutes left to play in the first half. After the Ephs tied it up with a 1-for-2 performance from the line from Rooke-Ley, Chris Hudnut hit a long two to keep the Mules in control. Robinson responded again for the Ephs with a baseline jumper to tie the game up at 21 all. A lay-up from Rooke-Ley with 7:37 left to play in the opening frame gave the Ephs their first lead since a finish inside gave them the 4-2 lead 1:10 into the game.
The Ephs began to take over up 29-26 on the shoulders of Robinson, who hit two threes from the top left part of the key – one of which was several feet behind the line – to put the Ephs up nine with just over three left in the opening frame. Colby continued to fight for the rest of the half as Shane Rogers hit a put-back off the glass to prevent an Eph opportunity at a double-digit lead. The Mules cut the deficit to five with their final possession of the half as Hudnut backed his defender down in the paint and finished. Rooke-Ley's desperation three did not fall as time expired, and the Ephs entered the locker room up 35-30. Hudnut carried the Mules in the first half with 14, while Robinson led the Ephs with 15 in the opening frame.
Out of the break, the Mules cut the Eph lead to three with a pair of free throws from Hudnut, but a finished inside from Daniel Wohl quickly pushed the Eph lead back to five. The two teams proceeded to trade hoops for several minutes before the Ephs pushed the lead to seven at 46-39 following a pair of free throws from Robinson with 13:30 left to play. On the next possession, they pushed the lead to double digits as Mike Greenman drove to the hoop and dished the ball out to Daniel Aronowitz on the right baseline. Aronowitz immediately passed the ball to Rooke-Ley, who hit the three to make it 49-39. After trading buckets, Rogers hit a three from the top left part of the key to cut the Eph lead to six, but a finish inside from Michael Mayer gave the Ephs the 55-47 lead with 10:42 left in the second stanza.
Several possessions later, Colby cut the lead to three when Rogers swooshed a long-ball from the top to make it 57-54. The Ephs continued to control the game with a finish in the paint from Robinson and a long-ball from Greenman before Patrick Stewart hit a long three for the Mules to cut it to 62-58 with 5:03 left to play. The Ephs pushed the lead to 66-58 with a pair of free throws from both Robinson and Wohl before Rogers cut it to 66-60 with a jumper with 2:37 left to play. With neither team able to convert for several possessions, Stewart had an open look at the net from three with just over thirty seconds left to play. The shot rimmed out, and the Mules were forced to foul and send the Ephs to the line to ice the win.
Robinson led all scorers with 27 points on 9-for-9 shooting from the field and 6-for-6 from the charity stripe. Mayer had 15 and Rooke-Ley ten for the Ephs, who were 46.3% from the field on the day.
Hudnut recorded a double-double for Colby with 20 points and 12 rebounds. Rogers added 16 off the bench on 6-for-9 shooting for the Mules, who were 40.7% from the floor in today's game.
Said head Coach Mike Maker after the game, "I think anytime you can win two conference games –particularly in our league – you have to be happy about that. I thought we had some tired legs, and we got some great contributions from our first-year players. I thought they gave us much-needed energy to lift our bench. For a variety of reasons, we're not in the best condition right now because we've had multiple injuries, and our depth really helped us out. I thought over the weekend we got great play from our center position with both Michael and Ryan; I thought Hayden was solid, and our first-years were really good – particularly Duncan."
Maker commented on Robinson's perfect offensive night as well: "I've said it before, I think he's one of the most talented first-years we've ever had here. I think he's a go-to player as a first-year player, and his teammates and staff have a lot of confidence in him. We'd like to see him be more aggressive on the offensive end. He's developing, humble, mature and he's a very talented player."
The Ephs return to Chandler on Wednesday to take on rival Amherst in a Little Three game. Tip-off is set for 8:00 PM.
Added Maker looking towards Wednesday: "We're going to enjoy the weekend and enjoy these two wins. We'll get ready for them on Monday just like we do for any other opponent, and the focus will be on Williams. We have great respect for them. The gym will be packed, and I'm sure it'll be a great atmosphere."