WILLIAMSTOWN, MA—In the penultimate NESCAC regular season matchup, the Williams Ephs (14-9) fell to the Tufts Jumbos (19-5) by a final score of 77-73. With the loss, the Ephs fall to 4-5 in NESCAC play.
"Against good teams, it comes down to them making a shot, you missing a shot. But I thought we had guys step up and make big shots to give us a chance to win against a good team. Give them credit, [Tufts] stepped up and made their free throws and some big shots down the stretch," said Williams head coach Kevin App.
After a tightly contested first half, Tufts entered the locker room with a 36-35 lead. The Ephs led for the majority of the half, but senior Stephen Haladyna gave the lead back to the Jumbos on a three-point play with 3:52 remaining in the half.
Williams owned the boards, outrebounding the Jumbos 24-16, but Tufts had only 3 turnovers to 9 for the Ephs. Haladyna scored 13 points on 5-10 shooting, likely due to the fact that Williams paid special attention to 6'8" junior forward Tom Palleschi. For the Ephs, sophomore guard Cole Teal nailed his first three attempts from behind the arc, but did not attempt another shot for the remainder of the half.
"We were a little casual with the ball in the first half and missed some open shots," said Coach App.
Early in the second half, Tufts went on a 9-0 run to take a 49-40 lead with 13:33 left. Junior Drew Madsen capped off the run with an emphatic put-back dunk. Shortly thereafter, Ephs junior Daniel Aronowitz broke the run with a three from the left corner. Teal hit a mid-range jumper to pull Williams to within 4 at 56-52. After a defensive stop, Aronowitz finished with his left hand to make it a two-point deficit with 10:24 remaining, but the Jumbos responded with consecutive buckets to extend their lead back to 6.
The Ephs fought hard on both offense and defense, but struggled to put together a run. Aronowitz was able to cut it to 69-65 on a tough shot in the lane with 2:55 to go. After Williams couldn't secure the rebound on a missed free throw by Vincent Pace, sophmore guard Ben Engvall hit a crucial three from the left wing with 2:22 left to put the Jumbos up 72-65. Williams would not go away as Teal drilled his fourth three of the game to make it 72-68 Tufts with 1:03 left.
The Ephs employed full court pressure and senior Ed Flynn fouled junior guard Tarik Smith as soon as the ball was inbounded. Smith, however, was given a technical foul for throwing an elbow. With Tufts in the bonus, Smith went to the line and sunk both of his free throws. On the other end, Aronowitz made both of his technical free throws to make the score 74-70. Due to the technical, Williams was also given possession.
With just 5 seconds left on the shot clock, Teal made a deep three to pull Williams within 1. As Tufts attempted to inbound the ball, Ephs freshman Kyle Scadlock fouled Haladyna, who made two clutch free throws to put Tufts up 76-73. Aronowitz found freshman James Heskett in the corner for a potential game tying three, but his shot bounced off the rim and Pace secured the rebound and the win for the Jumbos.
Aronowitz led the Ephs with 22 points, 9 rebounds, and 5 assists.
Haladyna led the Jumbos with 22 points. Palleschi added 17 points and 7 rebounds.
"All these close games will help us in the tournament and in the careers of all our young guys. The hard part is putting yourself in position to win and we've done that. It's heartbreaking at times. As a coach, you can't get too discouraged because we've had guys step up and put us in position to win games," said Coach App.
Williams next plays vs. Bates on Sunday, February 14th at 2:00 P.M.