WILLIAMSTOWN, MA—In the first game of NESCAC play for both teams and the latest installment in their storied rivalry, Amherst College (10-2, 1-0) defeated the Williams College Ephs (11-2, 0-1) 80-72.
Amherst set the tempo for the game from the very beginning, playing quick and aggressive on both sides of the ball. However, neither team was able to get anything to fall for the first three minutes of the game, until Johnny McCarthy made a layup off a baseline drive on the ninth field goal attempt of the game. Dan Aronowitz answered with a drive of his own, but Amherst quickly established a six-point lead with back to back threes by Jeff Racy and Jacob Nabatoff.
After trading buckets for a bit, another three by Nabatoff kicked off a 10-2 Amherst run which was capped by yet another three-pointer, this time by Michael Riopel, to put Amherst up 22-11 halfway through the period.
A couple minutes later, Kyle Scadlock slammed home an alley-oop from Dan Aronowitz to reinvigorate the Ephs and the packed crowd, and while Amherst held onto their double digit lead for a few more minutes, Williams leapt into action in the final five minutes with a 9-2 run featuring two tough layups by Aronowitz and a wide open three-pointer by Cole Teal, cutting the Amherst lead to just four.
Jeff Racy nailed a corner three, only to be answered by a jump shot from the elbow by Aronowitz. A powerful drive by Bobby Casey cut the lead back to three, but back-to-back buckets by Amherst post man Eric Conklin gave his team some breathing room going into the half. The score at the buzzer was 33-27 in Amherst's favor.
Aside from their push going into the half, Williams struggled on offense. Mimicking the frigid conditions outside Chandler Gymnasium, the Ephs were ice cold from three-point, making only two of their twelve attempts, and they struggled to get layups and post buckets to fall as well, combining to shoot just 35.3% from the field.
Amherst did not shoot fantastically, making 42.4% of their first-half shots, but combined with formidable defense and some clutch play, it was enough to secure a significant lead.
Starting out the second half, Cole Teal sunk a three-pointer to cut the deficit to four, but Amherst answered right back, with consecutive buckets by Jayde Dawson to reassert the lead. This pattern of punch, counter-punch played out several times in the beginning of the first half.
A trey from the top of the key by Jacob Nabatoff was answered by beautiful pull-up jumper from Dan Aronowitz, and with the score 49-40, the teams settled into a persistent eight- to ten-point game. After this point, eight minutes into the second half, Williams would not come within seven points of the lead.
After the game, Williams head coach Kevin App acknowledged his team's struggles to break out of Amherst's grip: "We definitely tried to go on some runs in the second half, but they're an old, experienced team and they were able to answer every one of those runs. To their credit, they answered us with a big shot or a big play."
While shooting better from the field in the second half, including making over 40% of their long-range attempts, the Ephs found very few easy buckets with stout defense applied in the post by David George and Eric Conklin. Amherst's quickness on the outside forced the Ephs into taking many tough three-point shots which they failed to knock down in the numbers necessary to climb out of their hole, at least not while Amherst continued to score behind Jayde Dawson and Johnny McCarthy.
Cole Teal shot 60% from three in the game, making all but two of the Ephs' three-pointers, but his bombs came too few and far between to make up the deficit against a relentless and experienced Amherst squad. Outside of Teal, the Ephs went 2-16 from long distance. Amherst, meanwhile, found success from the behind the arc, shooting a solid 40.7%, including a perfect 3-3 showing from the 6'8 Jacob Nabatoff. "They're big, they're experienced, and they've taken all the big shots," Coach App said of this Amherst team. "You really have to pick your poison; when they're making shots, just like when any team is making shots, they're very tough to guard."
Putting on a full court press in the final two minutes, the Ephs did succeed in forcing an Amherst timeout with a trap, but, once the teams began trading fouls, both squads converted their attempts from the stripe down the stretch, allowing Amherst to maintain their lead. Cole Teal swished a three-pointer with 20 seconds remaining to put the score at 80-72, and Amherst was able to hold onto the ball to run out the rest of the game clock.
Cole Teal led all scorers with 26 points, largely on the strength of his 6-10 shooting performance from three-point range, while Daniel Aronowitz contributed 21 points and a team-high six rebounds. Jayde Dawson led Amherst in scoring with 19 points, while Johnny McCarthy registered a double-double, putting up 15 points and 11 rebounds. Williams shot 41.5% from the field, compared with a 47.5% mark from Amherst.
Amherst returns to action against Wesleyan on January 13th, while Williams will host Trinity on Sunday the 8th at 2:00 PM.