SPRINGFIELD, MA—Having traveled to the birthplace of basketball, the Williams College Ephs (8-1) put on a clinic in a victory over the Springfield College Pride (3-5) by a sizable margin, 87-69.
Springfield was plagued by turnovers in the first half in addition to suffering from a size deficit against the very long Ephs: four Ephs, including wings Kyle Scadlock and James Heskett, were taller than Springfield's tallest player. This size advantage helped Williams control the paint and force Springfield to attempt tough shots, hardly any of which fell for them.
The Ephs took control of the game early and never let go. Williams opened the game 25-6, including eleven unanswered points early in the first half. With the score 12-6, James Heskett got the feed from Bobby Casey on a beautiful cut to the hoop to score, followed immediately by a steal and fast-break dunk by Daniel Aronowitz. A trey by James Heskett followed by post buckets by Matthew Karpowicz and Kyle Scadlock extended the Eph lead, and a strong layup by Aronowitz put the score at 25-6 at the halfway point in the half.
Five quick points by Trey Witter broke the Ephs' momentum, but the Williams lead would not dip below fifteen for the rest of the game. After maintaining the margin around twenty points, Bobby Casey swished a three-pointer as time expired in the half to give the Ephs a twenty-one-point lead going into the half, 52-31.
Normally very reliant on three-point shooting, the Ephs found great success against Springfield playing a more traditional style that emphasized post play and penetration. Michael Kempton and Matthew Karpowicz both executed multiple pick-and-roll plays to perfection, while the Ephs combined for 34 points in the paint.
On the other hand, Springfield struggled mightily in the first half offensively, making only 38.7% of their shots, including going 2-7 from long range. Whereas only one Williams player shot below 50% in the first half, the opposite was true, with only Anthony Reynolds's 2-3 mark over 50% for the Pride
Eph head Coach Kevin App called the first half against Springfield "our best offensive half so far. We came out with a lot of intensity on the defense and played very efficient offense."
Coach App attributed this success to the leadership of the team's upperclassmen, specifically captains Dan Aronowitz, Taysean Scott, and Mike Greenman: "I've been really proud of the guys this whole week, and our upperclassmen have done a tremendous job of setting the tone early and making sure the whole team is ready to play."
Relying on their large lead, Williams fended off any and all Springfield attempts at a comeback in the second half. And comeback attempts there were. Early in the half, Williams extended their lead to its greatest extent with a mark of 62-35 but then immediately gave up eleven unanswered points, largely by first-years Jake Ross and Anthony Reynolds.
With thirteen minutes to play and the score 62-46, Kyle Scadlock snapped the Pride's streak with an open layup, followed by a three ball by James Heskett. Having stopped this major counteroffensive, the Ephs maintained a lead in the upper teens, keeping the Pride at bay for the rest of the half. The score sat at 87-69 when the final buzzer sounded.
Williams finished the game having made 58% of their shots, including 41% from three, while Springfield shot 39% from the field on the game and just 20% from long distance. Williams also outrebounded the Pride 37-27.
Jake Ross, Springfield's first-year phenom averaging 21 points per game, stayed true to that mark with a game-high 23 points. Ross and Anthony Reynolds led the Pride with 6 rebounds apiece.
Meanwhile, Dan Aronowitz made eight of his ten field goal attempts to lead the Ephs in scoring with 21 points. He was assisted in this contest by Cole Teal, who contributed 19 points and a game-high eight rebounds, as well as Michael Kempton, Kyle Scadlock, and James Heskett, all of whom were in double digits.
Aronowitz, the Ephs' leading scorer, was coming off two games in which he was held to single digit scoring totals, but the senior seems to have re-discovered his groove, combining for 39 points in the last two games. Williams head coach Kevin App said that Aronowitz "was recovering from carrying the load for us in the first five games. He's a phenomenal scorer, and he's learning to pick his spots better."
Springfield is not done testing themselves against formidable NESCAC opponents, facing Amherst on Wednesday. Meanwhile, this was Williams's last game before the holidays; they will return to action against nationally-ranked Hope College in a tournament in northwest Ohio.
Coach App said he looks forward to "representing New England down in Ohio. I told the guys to finish up their finals and to get rejuvenated and excited to play together again. I hope these first nine games have shown how good we can be and also how much better we can get."