Ephs top Tufts 80-75

Dan Wohl '15
Dan Wohl '15

MEDFORD, MA – After a tight loss to Bates the previous day, the Williams College Ephs defeated the Tufts University Jumbos by a score of 80-75. Tufts led going into halftime, but the Ephs retook the lead in the second half and fended off a last-minute sally by the Jumbos to lock up the victory.

Eight minutes into the second half, Daniel Wohl retook the lead for Williams with a three-point shot that moved him to 17th on Williams' all-time scoring list, and, after several scoreless minutes for both teams, Daniel Aronowitz added two foul shots to give the Ephs a three point lead.

At this point, Daniel Wohl took control of the game; over the course of five minutes Wohl scored 15 consecutive points for the Ephs, slowly building up a lead that reached double-digits with under 3 minutes to play.

Even at this point, Tufts was never out of the game. A spurt of scoring and aggressive defense by Tarik Smith in a full-court press cut the Eph lead to just three points with 45 seconds remaining, but Smith couldn't hit a game-tying three-point attempt. Desperation fouls sent Hayden Rooke-Ley, a 90% free throw shooter, to the line, and Rooke-Ley sunk his shots to sew up the game for Williams.

The Ephs' one-two punch of Daniel Wohl and Hayden Rooke-Ley both finished the game with double-double's, as did Tom Palleschi for the Jumbos, who had 24 points and 10 rebounds. Wohl led all players in both categories, with 31 points and 13 boards.

Palleschi had a monster first-half and was the biggest reason Tufts led at the half; he notched 22 of his 24 points in the first half, besting his season-best scoring performance in just twenty minutes of basketball.

Palleschi and the rest of the Tufts squad held the lead for most of the first half, keeping Williams on the defensive with a successful regime of high ball screens and not allowing the Ephs to find a rhythm on offense. The Jumbo's, however, only shot 13.3% from three-point range, a failing that allowed the Ephs to keep the game close at the half.

Williams head coach Kevin App spoke about the adjustments the Ephs made to slow down Palleschi, who only scored 2 points in the second half, saying "We tried to force him further out; Ryan [Kiclullen], Darrias [Sime], and Ed [Flynn] did well on defense against him. They did a good job of tiring him out. Plus, when you make eleven of your first twelve shots, percentages are going to win out in the end."

Williams erased the Jumbo lead at the start of the second half with a pair of treys by Hayden Rooke-Ley and Mike Greenman and proceeded to keep the game close until Wohl went on his scoring tear in the final 8 minutes to build what would be the Ephs' final lead.

The Ephs shot 39.6% from the field and 44% from three-point while Tufts hit 36.4% of their shots while struggling mightily from long distance, making only 3 of their 23 three-point attempts.

Williams struggled mightily on the glass, losing the rebounding battle 50-37, and only grabbing 4 offensive boards in the entire game. However, the Ephs made up for it with their foul shooting: Williams made 27 free throws on 31 attempts (87.1%) compared to 66.7% for Tufts. Free throw shooting was a outsized factor in a  second half that saw both teams enter the bonus relatively early.

With the win, Williams improves to 4-4 in conference play and 13-8 on the year. Tufts, who had been tied with Bates for second place in the NESCAC, falls to 11-10 overall and 5-3 against conference opponents.

Coach App praised his team's performance in a "big-time road win," saying "We always talk about doing whatever it takes to win on the road, and this time we just stuck with it. Things weren't perfect, but we really competed and pulled it out."

In the final weekend of NESCAC play in the regular season, Williams will host Connecticut College on February 13 and Wesleyan University the following day, while Tufts will face Colby and Bowdoin after a non-conference matchup with Fitchburg State on Tuesday.