WILLIAMSTOWN, MA – In a thrilling start to conference play, the Trinity College Bantams (11-2, 1-0) fended off a comeback to edge the Williams College Ephs (9-4, 0-1) 71-69 in double overtime.
Trinity took a commanding lead to start the second half, but Williams clawed their way back, forcing two overtimes in a game that went down to the very last seconds.
Both teams started the game colder than a Williamstown January, with neither team able to do anything too exciting on offense. The game remained sluggish and close for the entirety of the half, and the teams went into the locker room with the score 25-24 in Williams' favor.
Both teams made a less than a third of their shots and less than a quarter from long distance in the first half.
However, Trinity was apparently able to shake off their ice during halftime, and the Bantams emerged an entirely new team. Led by Jaqwuann Starks, Trinity launched on a 22-5 run, including 12 unanswered points, to go up by 16 with thirteen minutes left in regulation.
The lead would yo-yo around this mark for several minutes, with Williams struggling to get closer than six points until a pair of free throws by Daniel Wohl put the score at 55-49 with 5 minutes left in regulation. Wohl continued to carry the Ephs, sinking a three-pointer and two more foul shots until a beautiful steal by Daniel Aronowitz set up a transition layup by Wohl which cut the lead to one point with a minute left.
Trinity couldn't convert their next possession into points, and Williams got the ball with 31 seconds left. However, they turned it over and immediately had to foul to stop the clock. Christopher Turnbull missed the front end of his one-and-one opportunity, and the Ephs got the ball back with 15 seconds left, still trailing by one.
Daniel Wohl drove to the hoop with time ticking down but was fouled on the shot, sending Wohl to the line for two potentially game-winning foul shots with 3.6 seconds left. Wohl missed his first, but converted the second to tie the game at 59, and the teams went into overtime after Jaquann Starks missed his desperation shot.
Neither team took off in the first overtime; the teams traded buckets until the period ended with the teams tied at 65. Daniel Wohl, who sent the game to overtime after missing a foul shot, went cold from the strip at a very inopportune time, missing all six of his attempts in the extra period.
A tough bucket by Chris Galvin opened the second overtime and gave Williams their first lead since the beginning of the second half, but Jaquann Starks answered with a bucket of his own. Daniel Wohl and Ed Ogundeko traded buckets, keeping the game tied until Ogundeko sunk a free throw to give the Bantams a one-point advantage. Ogundeko then came up with a huge block on Daniel Wohl, but Wohl returned the favor, stuffing Jaquann Starks at the other end.
Starks couldn't make his layup fall with under a minute left, and after Wohl came down with the rebound, the Ephs called a timeout down by a single point with 12 seconds remaining. Williams called Wohl's number again, and after faking a drive, he pulled up for a game-winning fade-away jumper from the free throw line. It wasn't to be, and the ball bounced off the back rim. Hart Gliedman made a free throw, and time expired with the score 71-69 after a hard-fought 50 minutes.
Despite his free throw woes, Daniel Wohl turned in an impressive performance, notching his fifth double-double of the season with game-high 32 points and 14 rebounds. Jaquann Starks led the Bantams with 21 points.
Neither team shot spectacularly, with both teams finishing the game having made less than 40% of their shots (Williams: 35.3%, Trinity: 38.7%) and only a quarter of their three-point attempts.
This failure to convert from the behind the arc was very damaging to an Eph offense that came into the game shooting over 40% from three. Additionally, the Ephs only made 15 of their 29 attempts from the line, a category that was very important in the extra periods. On top of it all, Williams was without senior captain Hayden Rooke-Ley, who was benched due to an injury.
Despite the loss, Williams head coach Kevin App said that he was impressed by "our fight…I was impressed by our toughness and our winning mindset. They fought back from a big deficit in the second half, and that kind of fight is all you can ask for in a tough league with great teams like Trinity."
Both teams will be in action tomorrow, with Trinity travelling to Hamilton and Williams hosting their rivals, the Lord Jeffs of Amherst, in a rematch of last year's NESCAC Championship game.
When asked about playing Amherst after such a long game, Coach App explained that, "This is why we play tournaments early in the season, so that we can bounce back… I know the guys are excited to play, so we've got to get some rest and come back out with energy to compete again against Amherst."