WILLIAMSTOWN, MA—The Trinity College Bantams (9-5, 1-0) came up with a 65-63 win in a nailbiter over the Williams College Ephs (11-3, 0-2), completing a disappointing opening weekend of NESCAC play for the Ephs.
Neither team was really able to get going in the first half; both the Ephs and Bantams shot below 40% from the field and 25% from three-point. Williams took three minutes to make their first field goal, and the scoring proceeded at a correspondingly slow pace. The first half was characterized by tough drives and post plays, a departure from Williams's normally three-heavy approach, yet neither team found great success with these higher-percentage shots. Two exceptions were Matthew Karpowicz for Williams, who despite playing just five minutes in the first half converted on several post plays, and Kyle Padmore, who went 4-4 slicing through the Williams defense.
Originally down 4-1 early in the half, a trey by Bobby Casey followed by a three-point play by James Heskett gave Williams a three-point lead which they managed to hold onto for the next several minutes. Eric Gendron nailed a corner three in transition about halfway through the half, which, when combined with a foul shot by Ed Ogundeko, successfully erased the Ephs' thin margin.
A slight lead yo-yo'd back and forth throughout the first half. Jeremy Arthur hit a three from the top of the key followed up by a strong layup by Kyle Padmore to give the Bantams a three-point lead, only to be answered a couple minutes later by a putback by Karpowicz paired with a steal by Dan Aronowitz in a three-on-one fast break that led to two shots from the line.
A three-pointer by Kyle Scadlock off of a cross-court pass by Aronowitz and a jumper by Michael Kempton with thirty seconds left swung the lead back to Williams, but Jeremy Arthur swished a fadeaway jumper at the buzzer to cut the margin to just one at the half.
Coming out of the half, the Bantam's resident sharpshooter, Kyle Turnbull, put up eight unanswered points off of two three-pointers, one from way behind the arc, and a pull-up jumper from the foul line. Trinity's new six-point lead, by far the largest of the game, forced a Williams timeout. The teams traded buckets for a couple minutes until Kyle Turnbull struck again with his third three-pointer in the first five minutes of the half, extending the Bantam lead back to seven.
Williams labored under this deficit for several minutes until the Ephs combined some big shots with tough defense to put up ten unanswered points. Starting with a turnaround jumper by Matthew Karpowicz, Kyle Scadlock came up with a big block on defense, Bobby Casey hit a pair of free throws, and the team forced a Trinity shot clock violation. The run was capped by back-to-back treys by Dan Aronowitz with nine minutes to play.
Three quick points by Trinity center Ed Ogundeko tied the game up, and Bobby Casey traded threes with Bantam Paul Colson, halting the Ephs' momentum and leaving the game knotted up 54-54. At this point, Trinity took advantage of a Williams cold snap—the Ephs missed their next four shots in addition to committing two turnovers—by slowly rebuilding a six-point lead with two layups by Ogundeko and a step-back jumper by Eric Gendron.
Casey answered with a second-chance trey with three minutes to play, but both teams continued struggling to score. The margin remained at three into the final minute, and Dan Aronowitz and Bobby Casey combined for an uncharacteristic 1-4 performance from the stripe in the final 75 seconds, leaving Williams still down by two points with thirty seconds to play. Paul Colson missed his first free throw off an intentional foul, but the Bantams' Ed Ogundeko swallowed the rebound, as he did all game, forcing the Ephs to foul Colson again, who this time made both shots, setting the score at 64-60.
Bobby Casey converted all three of his free throws on the next Williams possession, but a free throw by Langdon Neal with three seconds left forced Dan Aronowitz to heave a half-court shot at the buzzer which failed to hit the rim, leaving the final score 65-63 in Trinity's favor.
Williams head coach Kevin App characterized his team's struggles as mental: "We played like a team who lost Friday instead of a team who was happy to be playing basketball on Sunday. We missed our first shot, and you would have thought the game was over instead of having thirty-nine more minutes to play."
"We played tight, thinking we had to make a home run play every time instead of keeping things simple. And to Trinity's credit, they took advantage of it," he added.
Statistically, the game was a slog; both teams shot poorly for the entire game. Williams hit 38.2% from the field and just 26.1% from three-point, though Trinity did not perform any better, making just one-third of their shots and six of their twenty-two three-point attempts. This was Williams's fifth straight game shooting under 50% from the field and under 31% from three-point.
Ed Ogundeko had a tremendous game on the boards for the Bantams, notching an incredible 23 rebounds, including 15 in the first half. He also led Trinity in scoring, putting up 15 points. Ogundeko personally nabbed more offensive rebounds (8) than the entire Williams team (5), leading the Bantams to a 18-5 margin in that category and a 47-39 margin in total rebounds.
Coach App didn't sweat the team's rough start in conference play, though he acknowledged that that kind of mindset might have impacted his team's performance: "In a league where you play everybody once, you can't think things like that because it doesn't matter. I think that's one of the reasons we lost today: our guys were already thinking that way."
Both teams return to action on January 13th, with Trinity travelling to Connecticut College and Williams facing Colby in Waterville.