MIDDLETOWN, CT—After a runaway victory two nights ago against Vassar, the Williams College Ephs (6-1) were handed their first loss of the year by their Little Three rival Wesleyan University Cardinals (7-0).
Despite less than stellar play by the Cardinals especially in regards to ball control—the Cardinals turned the ball over 19 times in the contest—the Ephs' shooting woes outweighed whatever mistakes Wesleyan may have made. Williams made only 37% of their shots and less than a third of their attempts from three-point range, which constituted a majority of the shots they took.
Wesleyan may have struggled with turnovers, but they absolutely dominated the boards, out-rebounding the Ephs 41-23. In addition, Wesleyan made the most of their shot attempts, making more than half of their shots both in general and from long range.
The momentum switched back just as quickly, however. Immediately after achieving a 21-16 lead, which would be their largest of the game, Williams failed to score for the next four minutes while Wesleyan turned up the heat. The Ephs would only make one field goal for the rest of the half.
With Wesleyan leading 29-25, Cardinal guard Salim Green went on a tear, scoring the Cardinals' last nine points of the half, all in the last two minutes, and handing Wesleyan a 38-29 lead going into the half. Led by Green, Wesleyan shot 63.6% from the field in the first half and had already opened a significant edge in rebounding, pulling down 17 boards compared to just seven for Williams.
The second half continued the dominant trends of the first. Williams strung together a couple of runs to cut the Wesleyan lead to two or three, but the Ephs were unable to heat up from long-distance which, in combination with Wesleyan's dominance of the defensive glass, spelled serious trouble for Williams.
After a quick five points by James Heskett early in the half had reduced the margin to just two, Wesleyan re-opened their near-double digit lead behind two three-pointers by P. J. Reed and back-to-back turnovers by Williams.
The Cardinal lead, fluctuating between seven and as many as thirteen points, again shrank to six with around two minutes left to play when Dan Aronowitz hit a three-pointer and Cole Teal sunk a pair of free throws while Wesleyan struggled to score. However, the next few crucial possessions for Williams failed to produce points, and once the Ephs started intentionally fouling in the double bonus with under a minute remaining, the game was essentially over. The final buzzer sounded with the score 72-62.
Williams forward James Heskett led all scorers with 17 points, and Heskett also led the Ephs in rebounds, pulling down 7 boards. Salim Green and Harry Rafferty each notched 14 points for the Cardinals, while Jordan Sears had a game-high 9 rebounds. Wesleyan put five players in double digits.
After the game, Williams head coach Kevin App saw the game as a learning experience. "Every game shows us what we have to work on, where we need to focus," he said. "An in large part it's little things. After all, it's only December 3rd—we'll get better."
Wesleyan will play their next game at home against Vassar on Wednesday, while Williams returns to action on Thursday, December 8th, hosting Westfield State in Chandler Gymnasium.