WILLIAMSTOWN, MA – The Williams College Ephs (1-2) defeated the Johnson State Badger (0-3) in decisive fashion by a score of 94-59, delivering rookie head coach Kevin App his first career win as a head coach.
Senior captain Hayden Rooke-Ley led the Ephs with 36 points, all of which came from three-point range. With his twelve treys, Rooke-Ley demolished the previous Williams record for three-pointers (9) formerly held by Tim Folan '03.
Rooke-Ley in fact opened the scoring with a quick three, the first of many in the game, after Williams won the opening tip, but Robert Hazard was able to answer in short order to even the game. This would serve as the model for much of the rest of the first half, with neither team able to build a lead greater than four points until within the 5-minute mark.
With the score 25-22 in Williams' favor, Hayden Rooke-Ley sunk a three to give the Ephs a six-point lead. After the Badgers were unable to convert on their next possession, Mike Greenman pulled up and nailed another trey from the top of the key. A foul shot by Ryan Kilcullen put the lead into double digits with 3:18 remaining in the half. Johnson State was unable to mount a serious challenge to that lead in that time, and the score at the half was 39-28.
The first half was characterized by fast-paced, exciting offensive basketball from both sides. Both teams started heating up after a frigid start shooting; Williams made 44.8% of their shots, while Johnson State sunk 41.9%.
The Eph defense appeared to effectively disrupt the Badger offensive attack; they were forced to rely on the shooting of Robert Hazard and the athletic play of Vernon Slater. The Ephs relied heavily on their three-point shooting; 62% (18 of 29) of their field goal attempts were from behind the arc.
Hayden Rooke-Ley led all scorers in the first half with 18 points, while Robert Hazard and Vernon Slater both registered 7 points for the Badgers.
Coming out of the half, the Badgers cut into the lead with 5 quick points, but then the Ephs took control, launching on a ten-point run. Hayden Rooke-Ley sunk a three-pointer, and, following a block in the paint by Ryan Kilcullen, Mike Greenman drove hard to the hoop to knock in two more. Rooke-Ley nailed another trey, and Dan Aronowitz converted two more points on a fast-break lay up to put Williams ahead by 16, 49-33.
Johnson State worked the lead down to 11 at one point, but the Ephs caught fire from behind the arc, sinking eight three-pointers in a row over the course of 7 minutes, including four by Rooke-Ley.
With the lead comfortably around 20, both teams pulled their starters. The Ephs continued to sink bucket after bucket, and the final buzzer sounded with the score at 94-59.
Hayden Rooke-Ley, in addition to breaking the Williams reord for three-pointers in a single game, led all scorers with 36 points. Rooke-Ley scored all of his points from behind the line, never even attempting a 2-point field goal. Additionally, Daniel Wohl recorded a double-double with 11 points and 10 rebounds. Robert Hazard led the Badgers with 19 points, as well as leading the team in rebounds with 8.
Carried by their second-half success, the Ephs shot 57.6% from the field, including 51.4% (18-35) from three-point range. The Badgers shot 41.8% on the game and 27.8% from behind the arc.
After the game, head coach Kevin App talked about how his team had bounced back after two disappointing losses, saying, "Our first two games we were tight, a nervous and tight basketball team, and we're not good when we're like that. When we're playing loose and free, we are a really good basketball team...I was proud of the guys because we're getting better from game to game, and they did a great job of just sticking to it."
App also reserved special praise for Rooke-Ley and his monster night: "Hayden really showed his toughness by going 12-15 after going 0-8 [versus Oneonta State]; that's the Hayden we all know and see every day. There have been some phenomenal players to come through this program, and to set a record like that really says something."
Williams will travel to Middletown, CT to face Little Three rival Wesleyan on Saturday, while Johnson State continues a tough road trip at Amherst against the Lord Jeffs on Friday.