MIDDLEBURY, VT—On the strength of a big second-half run, the Williams College Ephs (22-8) advanced to the Elite Eight with a 78-61 victory over the Susquehanna University River Hawks (23-6).
Both teams opened the game with 8-0 runs. Not unlike Williams's game in the Round of 32 against Scranton, they fell behind early when Ryan Traub sunk a hook shot and Dalton Reichard hit consecutive three-pointers. The Ephs, however, came back behind a three-point play by Marcos Soto, a pair of foul shots by Kyle Scadlock, and a trey by Mike Greenman.
In the first half, Williams struggled to recover their touch from behind the arc that they had demonstrated last weekend, making just 5 of their 17 first-half three-point shots. When they did find the bucket, however, they did so in streaks that proved turning points in the game.
Both teams slowed down immensely, scoring only a total of eight points over the next five minutes. Down by a pair with under five minutes to go, James Heskett and Bobby Casey sunk another pair of consecutive three-pointers to assert a four-point lead. A brace of foul shots by Michael Kempton put the score at 33-28 in the final minute, and Steven Weidlich missed a buzzer-beating three-pointer, sending the River Hawks to the locker room down by five.
Things looked shaky for the Ephs at the start of the second half. Five straight points by Ryan Traub evened the score in the first minute, and Williams, who had committed just two fouls in the first half, matched that figure in the first ninety seconds of play. Finding their feet after the first five minutes or so, however, the Ephs launched into a 15-3 run that put the game away.
Leading by four with 15:39 to play, Kyle Scadlock demonstrated his physicality with two hard drives up the lane for scores, and on the next possession the attention Scadlock attracted left Marcos Soto wide open on the block for a third straight bucket while turnovers prevented Susquehanna from even getting a shot off.
Ryan Traub finally got a layup to go after eight unanswered points by Williams, but he was answered by a catch-and-shoot three-pointer by Dan Aronowitz. Zachary Knecht hit a free throw, but a pair of foul shots by Scadlock on the other end—he was a perfect 12-12 from the line on the night—and a dagger form long-range by Cole Teal gave the Ephs a 16-point lead with 11 minutes to play.
Williams Head Coach Kevin App highlighted Scadlock's role as a catalyst for the game-breaking run after the game. "Once we found our rhythm and started attacking, we were able to make that run in the second half. Kyle did a great job of attacking their zone and really helped create our lead."
Susquehanna was unable to make a serious run at this lead—the smallest it got was 12—and the final buzzer sounded with Williams on top 78-61.
In sharp contrast to the Ephs' to victories in the previous weekend, their two best three-point performances of the season, Williams made only 31% of their three-point attempts, shooting 36.8% from the whole field. Their defense, however, kept Williams in the game and eventually secured their victory. Susquehanna committed 14 turnovers compared to the Ephs' 7, and the River Hawks fared little better shooting-wise, hitting 38.7% of their shots and only 23.8% of their long-distance attempts.
"I really thought our defense carried us, especially when we weren't making shots," Coach App commented: "We played with excellent energy and effort on that side of the ball."
Kyle Scadlock recorded his fifth double-double on the year and his third of the post-season, leading Williams with 22 points and 12 rebounds. Mike Greenman added 14 points, while Dan Aronowitz contributed 11 points, all in the second half, as well as 8 rebounds. Aronowitz's performance on the boards puts him over 500 rebounds in his career.
Steven Weidlich, Susquehanna's leading scorer on the year, recovered from a tough first half that saw him go 3-11 for only 7 points to finish with 22 points. Weidlich and Tyler Hoagland each pulled down six rebounds for Susquehanna Ryan Traub put up 12 points before fouling out in the second half, while Dalton Reichard added 13 points, including three treys.
Williams will face the winner of Middlebury and Endicott tomorrow evening at Middlebury's Pepin Gymnaisum. The game will mark Williams's 9th appearance in the Elite Eight.