SPRINGFIELD, MA – In a game characterized by low offensive output, the Williams College Ephs (7-2) edged the Springfield College Pride (4-4) by a score of 67-59.
Additionally, with his 67th consecutive made free throw, Eph Hayden Rooke-Ley broke the NCAA Division III record for consecutive free throws made in a single season, formerly held by James Jones of Delaware Valley.
Williams head coach Kevin App spoke about Rooke-Ley's performance and work ethic, saying: "Nobody works harder than Hayden. People don't know that he's in the gym the day after a game shooting multiple reps of every shot he missed the previous day. I can't say enough about him and our other senior captains (Dan Wohl and Ryan Kilcullen); it's because of them that we are 7-2 right now."
Ryan Kilcullen opened the scoring with a three ball for Williams, but a series of missed shots by the Ephs allowed Springfield to jump out to an early lead in the first few minutes of the game.
However, consecutive three-pointers by Kilcullen, Mike Greenman, and Daniel Wohl catapulted the Ephs into the driver's seat. Another trey by Greenamn followed by a layup by Cole Teal gave Williams a double-digit lead with 10:31 left in the half, 24-13.The Eph lead would hold at around this mark for the next several minutes.
Williams was unable to score for around six minutes towards the end of the first half, missing 9 straight field goals until Daniel Aronowitz sunka three-pointer with under two minutes left. This cold streak allowed Springfield to score eight unanswered points. A pair of layups by Sean Martin, a pull-up jumper by Andrew McNulty, and a pair of foul shots by Josh Downes slimmed the lead to two, 28-26.
Aronowitz's trey extended the Williams lead to 31-26, and it was with this score that the teams went into halftime. Williams's lead was due almost entirely to their initial success shooting; the Ephs were 1-13 from the field in the last eight minutes of the half and only made 27% of their shots in the half.
Springfield did not perform much better, however, only shooting 32.3% in the first half and only 10% from behind the arc, compared to the Ephs' 31.8%. Ryan Kilcullen was the game's leading scorer going into halftime with eight points.
Coming out of the half, a quick layup by Daniel Wohl followed by a three-pointer by Hayden Rooke-Ley re-established the Ephs' double-digit lead, but the Pride wouldn't surrender. Four unanswered buckets by Larry Piretra, Sean Martin, and two by Josh Altman brought the game back to within two until Daniel Wohl snapped the run with a three ball.
The shooting woes continued for both teams, and the narrow margin held for the next several minutes. After a putback by Tim Swenson and a jumper by Josh Altman with just under seven minutes to play gave Springfield their first lead since the opening minutes, 52-51, Hayden Rooke-Ley sunk a trey to put the Ephs back up on top until Josh Downes converted a layup to tie the game at 54.
Two layups by Ryan Kilcullen and Daniel Aronowitz gave Williams a four-point lead with five minutes to play. After neither team was able to score for the next two and a half minutes, Daniel Wohl converted a three-point play; another layup by Wohl extended the Eph lead to 9 with 2:05 remaining in regulation.
This late lead would be enough to secure the victory for the Ephs; despite two last-minute buckets by Springfield, the Ephs would ride their free throws from intentional fouls to a 67-59 victory.
Daniel Wohl led all scorers with 20 points in the contest, while Sean Martin was the Pride's leading scorer with 18 points on his way to a double-double (Martin also pulled down 13 rebounds). Tim Swenson was the game's leading rebounder with 14 boards.
Both teams shot the ball dismally: Williams made 32.8% of their shots, while that figure was 36.4% for Springfield. Half of all of the Ephs' attempts were from three, but they only made a third of those (11-33); Springfield meanwhile only made 3 of their 19 attempts from behind the arc (15.9%).
Williams coach Kevin App wasn't too concerned about his team's offensive performance: "We call that winning on the road; you've just got to do whatever it takes to get the win. We do normally shoot a higher percentage, but I was proud of our guys for not letting that dictate how we played. Everyone on the team made a play to help us win, and you have to be able to do that to be a great team."
Springfield will next play Westfield State on December 10, while Williams returns to action against WPI on December 29.