WILLIAMSTOWN, MA –In a closely contested NESCAC match in front of a packed Chandler Gymnasium, the Williams College Ephs (14-8, 5-4) defeated the Connecticut College Camels (7-15, 0-9) by a score of 83-81.
As tends to be the case with this Williams team, the game went down to the wire, and the final outcome rested on a clutch shot and consistent free throw shooting. With 3:41 remaining in regulation, Hayden Rooke-Ley tied the game up at 72 with a pair of foul shots, and Ryan Kilcullen took the lead for the Ephs with a post lay-in.
After a foul shot by Camel Alex Tonhazy, Daniel Wohl snapped an 11-minute dry spell from three with a big trey from the right side to give Williams a 77-73 lead with less than 2 minutes to play.
On the next Eph possession, Mike Greenman found Ryan Kilcullen under the basket as the shot clock expired to extend the Eph lead to five. The Camels were not able to recover from this late deficit, and, with the leadership of Hayden Rooke-Ley from the stripe, Williams wrapped the game up with foul shots.
After the game Williams head coahc Kevin App praised his opponents, saying "You have to give Conn. Credit; they came in here and played great, loose and free with nothing to lose. For the first ten minutes we had to hope they missed shots, but then we started really competing, and fortunately we were able to make a few plays down the stretch
The Camels had led at halftime after a close but high-scoring first half. With 6:17 to play in the first period, Alex Tonhazy caught fire from behind the arc, nailing three treys in a row before Williams could find an answer. Altogether, the teams hit 6 straight three pointers in less than 2 minutes, and Conn. College emerged from the streak up by six.
However, Williams would battle back in the first half. Ryan Kilcullen sunk two free throws, followed by a trey from Mike Greenman and an athletic layup by Hayden Rooke-Ley. A post bucket by Kilcullen cut the deficit to just one before Brandon Carson snapped the Ephs' 9-0 run with a quick layup. The teams went into the half with the Camels up 46-42.
Williams, however, erased the deficit right out of the gate with a three-pointer by Ryan Kilcullen and a pull-up jumper by Mike Greenman. After this, the lead went back and forth; for every momentum-shifting play for Williams, Conn. College had an answer. Until Wohl made his clutch three-pointer, neither team had led by more than three in the second half.
Williams saw several circumstances stacked against them in the second half; a multitude of fouls put the Camels in the double-bonus halfway through the half, and the Camels outrebounded the Ephs 49-30 on the game.
However, as Williams head coach Kevin App said, "We showed how much better we've gotten throughout the year in responding to situations. We had several moments where we could have lost our poise and rushed, but we stuck to it, and that's what we've been talking about all year."
Another factor that made the Eph victory more improbable was their poor performance from three-point range. Williams made 45.8% of their shots but only 24.2% from behind the arc (8-33), a distressing aberration for a team that generally shoots close to 40% from long distance. Conn. College hit 40.8% from the field and 53.3% from three.
Daniel Wohl assumed his customary position atop the scoring with 20 points, and he was joined by Ryan Kilcullen, who also registered 20. Alex Tonhazy led the Camels with 19. Wohl also led the Ephs with 13 rebounds, while Zuri Pavlin led Conn. College with 13 of his own. With this performance, Pavlin broke his own school record for most rebounds in single season, pulling down 251 thus far on the year.
Williams closes their NESCAC season on Saturday at 3PM against Wesleyan, while Connecticut will face Hamilton on Sunday.