WILLIAMSTOWN, MA – A three-pointer from the corner by Daniel Wohl to open the second half put the Ephs up by nine, and Williams never looked back, defeating the Mitchell College Mariners 81-66.
With the win, Williams improves their record to 24-4 and advances to the second round of the NCAA Tournament, while the Mitchell falls to 19-8.
Williams went into the half up by six points, 41-35, after having led from the tip-off. Eph center Michael Mayer scored the Ephs' first six points, all from the paint to give them an early lead.
Mitchell came out in an aggressive half-court trap defense which didn't allow the Williams offense to set up comfortably. This allowed the Mariners to tighten the game back up after the Ephs' early spurt and keep it contentious for most of the first half. An acrobatic drive to the lane by Eph Hayden Rooke-Ley with 9:23 left in the half gave the Ephs some separation, and a jumper by John Weinheimer extended the Williams lead to seven, 27-20. The margin hovered around there, and a last-second lay-up by Mariner Joshua Ford set the score going into halftime at 41-35 in Williams' favor.
Parris Hill led all scorers in the first half with 17 points for the Mariners, while Taylor Epley and Michael Mayer each had 10 for the Ephs. Mariner Joshua Ford led all rebounders with 7 boards.
After Wohl's trey put the Ephs up by nine, Mitchell was unable to mount a serious challenge to the Eph lead. Except for a few instances where the lead was cut to 9, Williams led by double digits for the remainder of the game, gradually extending their lead to the final score of 81-66.
The Mariners utilized their quickness, netting five steals in the game, including three by Frank Martin, and opening up multiple fast break opportunities. Williams, however, was able to take advantage of their size, and Williams center Michael Mayer notched five blocks of the Ephs' 8 blocks.
Despite the loss, Parris Hill put on an impressive performance, notching a double-double, with a game-high 31 points and 14 rebounds for Mitchell. Mariner Joshua Ford had a double-double as well, netting 18 points and a game-high 15 rebounds. Eph Michael Mayer also registered 15 rebounds as well as 5 blocks on his way to a double-double, leading the Ephs in scoring with 25 points. In addition, the Ephs had four players in double-digits. Williams shot 51% from the field, while Mitchell made 38% of their shots.
After the game, Eph head coach Mike Maker said: "The key for us offensively was that we were the aggressor early against their press. We have five guys that can dribble pass and shoot, and we attacked when we had to." Michael Mayer talked about his performance, saying that "we had a size advantage on the interior, and looked to exploit that early." Also, Taylor Epley expressed confidence about the team: "The great thing about our team this year is that we're more well-rounded offensively than we have been any other year: anyone out there can score. Now that we've got our chemistry down, we're going to be hard to beat."
When asked about Saturday's game against Gordon, coach Maker said, "We are looking forward to a challenge tomorrow against a very disciplined, well-coached Gordon team…Each time you advance in a tournament, it gets tougher and tougher, but I know that we're up to the challenge. Our focus will be on Williams."
Williams will play Gordon on Saturday at 7:00 in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.