WILLIAMSTOWN, MA—Wesleyan senior guard BJ Davis converted a floater with 0.9 seconds remaining in the game to give the Wesleyan Cardinals (6-1) a 58-56 victory over the Williams Ephs (5-1). The Ephs, playing without usual starters Mike Greenman and Chris Galvin due to injuries, gave the defending NESCAC Champions everything they could handle, but fell just short.
"I told the guys, this is just part of the process. We just played a team with a lot of juniors and seniors, and we're playing a lot of underclassmen. I was proud of them. One shot at the end doesn't change what we can get out of this game," said Williams Head Coach Kevin App.
The Ephs outplayed the Cardinals in the first half. Senior center Ed Flynn drove to the basket for a two handed jam with 5:28 remaining in the first half to extend the Ephs early lead to 26-12. After a timeout, Wesleyan went on a 7-0 run to cut the deficit to 26-19. Junior swingman Daniel Aronowitz killed the Cardinals' momentum with a three-pointer off a beautiful feed from freshman center Michael Kempton.
The Ephs and the Cardinals traded baskets for the remainder of the half and Williams went into the locker room with a 34-25 lead. Aronowitz had 12 points and 9 rebounds at halftime.
Wesleyan came out on fire in the second half. Junior forward Joseph Kuo converted an and-one on Wesleyan's first possession of the half. Junior guard Harry Rafferty nailed three soon after to cut the Ephs lead to 37-33. Sophomore forward Nathan Krill tied the game at 38 on a layup with 14:16 remaining. Less than a minute later, BJ Davis made a three to give Wesleyan a 41-38 lead. Kevin O'Brien's three from the right wing capped an 18-1 run for the Cardinals, which gave them a 46-38 lead.
The Ephs could not buy a shot, but managed to stay in the game with good free throw shooting (14-18). Bobby Casey broke the Ephs cold shooting streak from outside to cut the Cardinals lead to 49-47. Casey had a chance on the next possession to give the Ephs the lead with a three from the corner, but his shot hit the rim and Wesleyan guard Davis converted a breakaway layup to extend the Cardinals lead to four. A few possessions later, a beautiful drive to the basket by Aronowitz pulled the Ephs to within two.
With 3:11 remaining, Aronowitz finished at the rim to cut Wesleyan's lead to 54-53. Flynn fouled out on the next play, and with the Cardinals in the double bonus, junior guard Harry Rafferty converted one of two free throws to extend the lead to 55-53 with 2:41 remaining. Both teams failed to score over the next two minutes until Kuo made one of two free throws with 43.5 seconds left to make the score 56-53.
Out of a timeout, Aronowitz got the ball and drove to the basket for an and-one finish. With the game tied at 56 and 25.0 seconds remaining, Joe Reilly called timeout to setup the final play, where Davis would win the game for the Cardinals.
"We let their physicality on the defensive end prevent us from attacking. We settled for a few too many pull up jumpers," said App.
The Ephs shot 8-28 (28.6%) from three on the night, and committed 15 turnovers to Wesleyan's 5.
Davis led Wesleyan with 17 points and 8 rebounds on the night.
Aronowitz continued his streak of great games with 27 points and 13 rebounds. Freshman forward Kyle Scadlock finished with 11 points and 7 boards.
Williams next plays at Oneonta State on Tuesday December 9th at 7:00 P.M.