WILLIAMSTOWN, MA – In the final NESCAC contest of the regular season and a Little Three matchup, the Wesleyan University Cardinals defeated the Williams College Ephs in a runaway victory, 74-52.
With the win, Wesleyan improves to 16-8 on the year and 5-5 in conference play, while Williams falls to 14-9 overall and 5-5 against NESCAC opponents.
Wesleyan went into halftime leading the game by six points, but the Cardinals took control right out of halftime. B.J. Davis sunk a trey on Wesleyan's first possession, spurring a 14-0 run by the Cardinals in the first three and a half minutes of the half that featured eight points by Davis.
"I think some of it had to do with us worrying about the other end of the floor and not focusing on just getting a stop every time," Williams head Coach Kevin App said of the Cardinals' run. "We were more concerned about what was happening on the other end and I think that affected our energy on defense."
Daniel Aronowitz finally broke the run with a pair of free throws to make the score 45-27 in Wesleyan's favor. A second chance bucket by Chris Galvin and a pair of foul shots by Hayden Rooke-Ley added up to a modest 6 unanswered points. However, with the Wesleyan lead still firmly in double-digits, Jack Mackey took control of the game to ensure the Cardinal victory.
The Ephs finally broke through the lid that seemed to have been on the rim for much of the second half, but Mackey singlehandedly defended the Wesleyan lead, answering every single one of Williams' buckets with one of his own. Mackey would total 13 straight points including three treys on his way to a game-high 16 points.
Wesleyan continued to make their shots as Williams continued to struggle, never able to bring the deficit out of double-digits. The Ephs took out their starters with three minutes left in the game, allowing the game to play out to a final score of 74-52.
Williams was plagued by shooting trouble the entire game. An historically excellent three-point shooting team, the Ephs only made 15.4% of their long-distance attempts in this contest and 36.5% of all field goals. In addition the Ephs' one-two punch of Daniel Wohl and Hayden Rooke-Ley combined to go just 6 for 21 in the game.
The Cardinals, in contrast, had a solid offensive performance, making 50.9% of their shots and an impressive 47.6% of their three-point attempts. Jack Mackey led all scorers with 16 points for Wesleyan, while Daniel Wohl and Ryan Kilcullen led Williams with 13 apiece. Joseph Kuo and B.J. Davis both pulled down a game-high 7 boards.
The first half was a defensive slog; neither team found significant success as both squads showed their defensive muscle. Wesleyan slowly gained an advantage throughout the half, maintaining a small but persistent lead. With 5:28 to go in the first period, the Cardinals put up seven unanswered points in less than a minute with a putback by Rashid Epps, two foul shots by Harry Rafferty, and a three ball by Joe Edmonds.
This spurt of scoring put the score at 29-20, and the Ephs were unable to find a last-minute run in them. Chris Galvin and Joseph Kuo traded buckets, and Ryan Kilcullen sunk a big trey to cut the deficit to six, and it would be with this lead that would springboard Wesleyan to their second-half run to take control of the contest.
At the conclusion of the NESCAC regular season, Williams finished 7th in the conference with a record of 5-5, while Wesleyan leapfrogged the Ephs to lock up 6th place. Both teams earned spots in the NESCAC tournament, which will begin next Saturday, February 21. The Ephs' opponent will be determined at a later date. In addition, the Ephs' loss gives Amherst the outright Little Three title for this season.
While Wesleyan concluded their season with this game, Williams will host Castleton State on Tuesday after their initial matchup was cancelled due to snow.
Coach App is looking forward to the Castleton St. game, saying, "It can be a long week [preparing for the NESCAC tournament], so I think it'll be good to break it up. Hopefully it will be a release for a lot of the tension and over-thinking we tend to fall into."