WILLIAMSTOWN, MA – The Williams men's basketball team fell to Amherst (14-2, 4-0 NESCAC) 82-70 tonight. The loss is just the Ephs' (13-3, 3-1 NESCAC) third of the year but their second to Amherst. Amherst won this year's NESCAC match-up 84-73 earlier in the season. Tonight's game counted only as Little Three play, not as league play.
With the Ephs up 16-9 following a pretty three-point play from Duncan Robinson, Tom Killian hit a 3-ball from the top right part of the key to cut the lead to four with 13:10 on the clock. Ben Pollack then went 1-for-2 from the charity stripe, but Ryan Killcullen finished high off the board before hitting a 3-ball to push the Eph lead to 21-13. Pollack then finished in the paint and was fouled. He converted the three-point opportunity. Michael Mayer responded for the Ephs as he backed down his defender in the paint, spun around and finished a little jumper to put the Ephs up 23-16. Lord Jeff guard Aaron Toomey knocked down a long ball from downtown to cut the Eph lead to just four halfway through the opening frame. First-year Mike Greenman, who earned the first start of his career this evening, responded with a 3-ball of his own from several feet behind the arc to keep the Ephs up seven.
The Lord Jeffs, however, refused to go away. They went on an 11-0 run that started with finishes inside from Pollack and Killian. Joseph Mussachia then added a lay-up of his own. On the next Eph possession, Killian stole the ball. On the resulting play, Pollack threw a behind-the-back pass to Mussachia, who finished in the paint to give Amherst its first lead of the game at 27-26 with 6:28 left in the opening frame. David Kalema topped off the Amherst run with a 3-pointer from the top right part of the key with a hand in his face. The Ephs finally broke their four-and-a-half minute scoring drought with a lay-up from Daniel Aronowitz. Kalema hit another three from the same spot and finished inside to push the Amherst lead to seven. A finish from Wohl followed a pair of free throws from Killian, but finishes inside from Connor Green and David George put the Lord Jeffs up 41-30 with 3:38 left in the first half. The Ephs were unable to cut the lead to fewer than eight before halftime, and the Lord Jeffs entered the locker rooms with the 45-38 lead. Mayer led all scorers in the opening frame with 15; Kalema had ten for Amherst.
Out of the break, the Lord Jeffs continued to add to their lead. Green opened the half with a jumper, and Pollack finished inside. Green then hit a long ball before the Ephs got on the board in the second half with a 3-ball from Wohl to cut it to 52-40. A 9-4 Lord run – consisting of a 3-ball and lay-up from Kalema and a pair of finishes from Pollack for Amherst and another 3-pointer from Wohl and a free throw from Mayer for Williams – pushed the Amherst lead to 61-44 nearly six minutes into the second stanza.
Amherst continued to push, and their lead grew to as many as 23 with 6:50 left to play. The Ephs, however, refused to go away. They went on a 9-0 run spurred by a pair of pretty finishes in the paint from Mayer and another from Wohl. Wohl was fouled on the play and converted the and-one opportunity to cut the lead to 73-57 with 6:17 left to play. Mayer finished the run with a pair of free throws, but the Lord Jeffs took back the momentum with a baseline three form Killian. The Ephs were unable to cut the deficit to fewer than 12 before the game was up.
Mayer led all scorers tonight with 24 points. Wohl added 17. No one else was in double digits for the Ephs, who were 42.4% from the field on the night but just 23.8% from behind the arc. Williams was without starting guard Hayden Rooke-Ley due to injury.
Leading the way for Amherst was Killian with 21 while Kalema followed with 17. Pollack added 12 on 5-for-5 shooting, and Green rounded out the double-digits club with ten for the Lord Jeffs, who shot 50.0% from the floor tonight.
Head coach Miker Maker was very complimentary of Amherst's play after the game: "They took control of the game on the offensive end. We just couldn't get stops. They're very difficult to guard. They have a lot of weapons – experienced weapons. You look at their perimeter players – backcourt Toomey and Kalema have been together a long time and same with Killian and then you have a talented scorer in Connor Green – that perimeter is hard to guard. We had our problems and couldn't get stops."
He was proud of his team's efforts tonight: "I thought the effort was there; there's no doubt about that, but clearly we have a long way to go with our man-to-man defense. Once again our zone, I think helped us. At the end of the game, I'm really proud of our guys for not quitting and for getting it back to a respectable score."
He added, "I thought we had the looks we needed to get, and they didn't go down. We had a lot of valuable minutes from three first-year players. We had a young basketball team out there today, and we learned a lot. Hopefully we grow from it and get ready for Hamilton on Saturday."
The Ephs return to the court on Saturday to take on Hamilton. Tip-off is set for 4:00 PM.