AMHERST, MA – The Amherst College Lord Jeffs (24-3) defended their NESCAC Championship title this afternoon, defeating the Williams College Ephs (23-4) 93-82.
The game was tight from the very beginning. A dunk from Eph Michael Mayer on the opening possession was answered by a jump shot by Lord Jeff Connor Green, and this set the tone for a back and forth between the two teams, with neither able to create any separation for the first several minutes.
A three-pointer by Tom Killian put Amherst up 19-15 with 14:06 to go in the half, but a pair of free throws by Mike Mayer cut the lead to two. A trey from Eph Ryan Kilcullen a couple minutes later tied the game back up at 23 with 11:15 remaining.
The teams stayed knotted for the next several minutes. A second-chance bucket by Eph Daniel Aronowitz followed by a steal and layup by Daniel Wohl put the Ephs up by four at the 7:21 mark. A finish in the paint by Michael Mayer and then a three ball by Duncan Robinson extended the Eph lead to 9. However, two treys by Connor Green and Tom Killian stopped the Eph run in its tracks, cutting the lead to two and forcing a Williams timeout with 3:48 left in the half.
Coming out of the timeout, neither team could maintain possession, but a free throw by David Kalema and then a trey by Connor Green put Amherst up 39-37 with 2:10 left in the half. A three-point play by Duncan Robinson, and then a tough layup by Daniel Wohl took the lead back for Williams with less than a minute to play. Two free throws by Lord Jeff Connor Green cut the lead to one, but Duncan Robinson sank a three ball with 25 seconds left, putting the Ephs up by four. However, a last second three-pointer by Connor Gach brought the score to 45-44 going into the half.
Lord Jeff Tom Killian led all scorers at the half with 20 points, including 17 of his team's first 19, while Duncan Robinson led the Ephs with 16. Both Killian and Robinson only missed one shot each in the first half.
Coming out of the half, David Kalema struck first for the Lord Jeffs, sinking a pretty three-point shot to put Amherst up by two. However, a reverse baseline layup by Taylor Epley tied the game back up for the Ephs. A three pointer by Connor Green and then a pair of foul shots by David George gave Amherst a small lead, but a put back by Duncan Robinson and then a layup by Taylor Epley tied the game back up at 56 with 15:28 to go.
Almost immediately, however, a three point shot by Connor Green and then a put back by David George scored a quick five for the Lord Jeffs, and Amherst would not surrender the lead again in the game. A three ball by Connor Green to put the Lord Jeffs up 69-64 forced a Williams timeout with 10:25 to go in the game.
Coming out of the timeout, David Kalema got a steal, but was fouled on the fast break and sunk both of his shots, extending the Amherst lead to 7. A three-point-play from Duncan Robinson and then a slam dunk by Daniel Wohl cut the lead to two, but yet another three-pointer for the Lord Jeffs, this one by Tom Killian, brought the lead back to five.
The lead hovered there for the next few minutes. A three-pointer by Connor Green and then a tough layup by Tom Killian extended the Amherst lead to ten and forced Williams to take a timeout with 5:24 remaining in the game.
Coming out of the timeout, Amherst maintained control of the game with a layup by Aaron Toomey at the 4-minute mark. Two free throws by Tom Killian extended the Amherst run to 9 unanswered points and their lead to 14, 87-73, with 2:50 remaining in the game. Duncan Robinson snapped the streak with a big three-point shot for the Ephs with 1:55 left, but the deficit remained in the double digits at 11.
The Ephs began a full-court press, but that couldn't stop the Lord Jeffs from continuing to increase their lead with a dunk by David George and a pair of free throws by Connor Green that made it a 15-point game. Both teams put in their substitutes in the last minute, and the final score was 93-82.
Tom Killian led all scorers with 31 points for the Lord Jeffs of Amherst, while Duncan Robinson led the Ephs with 26. Both teams had four players in double digits, and Lord Jeff Aaron Toomey notched a double-double, with 12 points and 10 rebounds. Amherst shot 51.8% from the field, while Williams made 47.6% of their shots. In addition, the Lord Jeffs shot a solid 50% from behind the arc, compared to 30.4% for the Ephs.
After the game, Eph head coach Mike Maker said: "We lost to an elite team on their home floor. I'm very proud of our guys for displaying the effort and heart to go toe-to-toe with them for 40 minutes. They played very well. Coach Maker also said that the team is "looking forward to the NCAA Selection Show tomorrow. We've had a great year that I think merits a spot in the tournament."
With the win, Amherst guaranteed a bid to the NCAA tournament. You can watch the NCAA DIII Men's Basketball Selection Show on Monday, March 3 at 12:30 PM by following this link: NCAA.com/liveschedule.