WILLIAMSTOWN, MA – In a nailbiter between two arch-rivals, the Williams College Ephs topped the Amherst College Lord Jeffs by a score of 71-70 after Ryan Kilcullen hit the game-winning three-pointer with four seconds to go.
With the win, Williams rebounds from a tough loss to Trinity the previous day and improves their record to 10-4 and 1-1 in NESCAC play. Amherst is now also 1-1 against conference opponents, and they are 9-3 on the year.
Williams head coach Kevin App spoke again about his squad's toughness, saying "To lose our heart and soul in Hayden [Rooke-Ley, who was out with an injury] and to lose a heartbreaker to Trinity last night, bouncing back against our rivals just says a lot about this group. They've got a lot of grit and a lot of toughness."
Both teams started the game hot from behind the arc; the first five minutes consisted of solely three-point buckets, featuring two apiece by Connor Green for Amherst and Cole Teal for Williams.
Despite a brief five-point lead for the Ephs, the game settled into a back-and-forth for much of the first half. With just over six minutes left in the half, Williams went on a 10-1 run keyed by a deep three by Mike Greenman. Darrias Sime added a putback, Daniel Aronowitz contributed a foul shot, and Chris Galvin converted a layup after getting his own rebound to bring the Eph lead to eight, 29-21.
Williams extended their lead to double digits with under two minutes to go off a Daniel Wohl trey, but Amherst roared back, finishing the half on a 5-0 run featuring post play by David George and a clutch three by Jeff Racy. The teams went into the half with Williams leading 36-30.
Two and a half minutes into the second period, Jeff Racy sunk back-to-back treys to practically erase the Ephs' halftime lead in a matter of 30 seconds. Darrias Sime converted a post bucket, but Racy drilled another three ball to lock the teams up in a one-point contest.
Racy lthreatened the game's equilibrium with yet another three at the 11-minute mark to put Amherst up by three, but Darrias Sime converted a three-point-play to keep the game tied. The entire second-half only emphasized how evenly matched these two teams are, as the lead yo-yoed back and forth, with Amherst at only a slight advantage.
Sime, who only averaged 1.8 points per game coming into the contest, consistently stepped up in the second half and would finish the game with 11 points. Coach App talked about his performance, saying "Darrias is one of our more experienced guys; he really knows what we're trying to do. He brings a lot of energy and toughess to the court when he plays."
Around the midpoint of the second half, Williams found themselves seemingly unable to sink shots, and their inside defense was not strong enough to prevent the Lord Jeffs from building a more substantial lead. With six minutes to play, David George and Connor Green executed two clutch three-point-plays by to put the Lord Jeffs up by eight points, 65-57.
A layup by Ryan Kilcullen and a pair of foul shots by Daniel Wohl cut the deficit to four, but David George answered with yet another strong bucket from the post, extending the Amherst lead back to six with under 3 minutes to go.
Daniel Aronowitz made a layup off a tough drive cutting the margin to four, and Daniel Wohl sunk a huge three with just over a minute left to bring the game within one. However, Johnny McCarthy came up big for the Lord Jeffs with a three of his own to make it a two-possession game with 50 seconds left.
Wohl converted a layup to put the Ephs within two with only thirty seconds remaining, and the Ephs immediately fouled to stop the clock.
David George went to the line for Amherst with a one-and-one opportunity, but missed his first shot, giving Williams, trailing by two, the last possession of the game. Daniel Wohl, the Ephs' go-to man in clutch situations, couldn't find an opening as time wound down, but he did find Ryan Kilcullen open in three-point range on the left side.
Kilcullen got the feed from Wohl and, with four seconds on the clock, drilled a three-pointer giving the Ephs a one-point lead as the packed crowd in Chandler Gymnasium exploded. Amherst couldn't get a shot off in time, and Williams fans poured onto the court, mobbing the Ephs' last-second savior, Ryan Kilcullen.
Such a tight and heart-stopping ending provided an exclamation point on an extremely competitive game between two very evenly-matched rivals. Williams finished the game shooting 43.1% from the field, while Amherst made 39.4% of their shots. The Lord Jeffs converted 38.5% from behind the arc, while Williams struggled from long-distance on the game, only sinking 8 of their 27 attempts from three (29.6%).
Daniel Wohl once again carried the Ephs, leading all scorers with 28 points in the contest, while David George led the Lord Jeffs with 18 points, with contributing performances by Jeff Racy and Connor Green, who both notched 16. Johnny McCarthy turned in a double-double on the game, scoring 12 points and pulling down 10 boards.
Williams coach Kevin App lavished praise on his seniors Daniel Wohl and Ryan Kilcullen, who both had big performances tonight: "They make my job as a coach easy in a sense; they bring the leadership and get the team ready to go. Tonight's game would be hard without that kind of leadership, and I couldn't be happier for them and their play tonight. It couldn't have happened to two better guys."
Williams returns to action against Bowdoin on January 16, while Amherst faces Wesleyan on January 13.