WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass.—According to the Williams men's basketball team's preseason schedule, Chandler Gym should have been empty tonight. The Ephs should have been looking forward to Saturday's NESCAC quarterfinal at Bowdoin, and trying very, very hard not to think about last Saturday's brutal conference finale, a 74-52 drubbing at the hands of Wesleyan.
Fortunately for the Ephs, a late January attack by Winter Storm Whatever demanded the cancelation their nonconference game against Castleton, which was soon rescheduled to tonight.
So Chandler Gym was not empty, and the Ephs did not have Wesleyan on their minds. wave of absurdly hot first-half three-point shooting gave the Ephs a sizable cushion they would never relinquish. When the mostly meaningless second half came to close, Williams (15-9, 5-5 NESCAC) had closed its topsy-turvy regular season with a 78-56 victory over the Spartans.
Overall, the Ephs shot their best in a month—54.5% from the field—to send the Spartans to their fourth straight loss. Dan Wohl led the way offensively, scoring 22 points and five rebounds on video game-esque 9-10 shooting. And all that in 23 minutes. Hayden Rooke-Ley added 18 for the Ephs, with all of his points coming from three-point range, where he was 6 for 9. Loss on Saturday? What loss on Saturday? "The whole season, it's been more mental with us," said Williams coach Kevin App on his team's rebound performance. "We were getting the same shots [as on Saturday]."
The Ephs took command in this one early. Exploiting gaps in the Spartans' largely static 2-3 zone, the Ephs contented themselves with shots from downtown. On Saturday, this was a glaring problem: Williams was just 4-26 from beyond the arc. Toight, they made that many in five minutes, starting 4-5 and taking over six minutes to so much as bother attempting a shot within 20 feet of the hoop.
On the flip side, the Spartans' Chad Copeland provided all of his team's early offense. The junior forward scored his team's first eight points on a series of mid-range jumpers. It wasn't until Chad Pulver tossed a hook off the backboard to make the score 16-10, over seven minutes into the game, that a second Spartan entered the score sheet.
From there, the Ephs took off on an 11-0 run bookended by a trio of threes, one from Cole Teal and two from Dan Wohl. In between was a long Eph possession in which Edward Flynn missed an easy layup but was bailed out when Wohl swatted the rebound to Mike Greenman. Eventually, Flynn got the ball under the hoop again—and missed from in close again. But this time, Flynn collected his own rebound and put home his third try. The Ephs led, 21-10.
Soon, it was 27-10, then 46-26 at halftime. With 20 minutes gone, the Ephs had shot 60.7% overall (17-28), including a comically good 10-16 from downtown. What Wesleyan game?
Though the teams were much more evenly matched for most of the second half, the Spartans never drew closer than 18, when Carnalius Green stole a pass and dished a no-look pass to Rob Coloutti to make it 52-34. But Rooke-Ley coolly drained another three just seconds later, ending the Spartans' 6-0 run and putting the Ephs' firmly in the driver's seat the rest of the way.
Now, the Ephs can do what they already would have been doing, and focus on Bowdoin, which defeated the Ephs in Brunswick last month. Tip-off for Saturday's quarterfinal is scheduled for 2pm.