WESTFIELD, MA -- The Williams men's basketball team earned a much needed 70-63 bounce-back win on the road against Westfield State University following their first loss of the season on Saturday night. Juniors Bobby Casey and James Heskett led the effort with 21 and 19 points respectively. A majority of Westfield's points were also only scored by two players, freshman Ty Sands and Peter Mafo combined for 34 points including going 16-16 from the free throw line.
Both teams struggled to put the ball through the cylinder in the early going, with fouls seemingly piling up faster than points. Foul shots, an area that played a big role in Williams' loss to Wesleyan on Saturday night, would prove to be the difference in the first half on Tuesday. Both teams managed to make eight field goals in the first half, with Williams accomplishing that feat at a slightly more efficient rate. The Owls committed their seventh of fourteen first half fouls with over ten minutes remaining in the period, sending the Ephs to the line on each whistle from that point on. Williams capitalized, making 11-15 foul shots in the half which gave them a six point advantage in that field, accounting for most of the 30-22 lead that Williams built during the first 20 minutes.
The highlight of the first half for the Ephs came with 7:00 minutes remaining when Mike Greenman found Heskett running down the floor on an outlet pass. Heskett was able to beat his defender with a Euro Step leading into a strong two-handed dunk that made the score 19-9, the largest lead that Williams held during the half. The Ephs stalled after this point, which had the making a momentum shifter. The Owls clawed their way back, and Moody Bey made it a one point game at 21-20 with a three pointer following a Heskett airball on the other end.
Casey led Williams with 8 first half points while the Owls were kept in the game mostly thanks to two players, Isaiah Headley and Peter Mafo, who tallied 9 and 8 respectively. Williams junior Kyle Scadlock, who is currently leading the NESCAC in points per game at 20.7, went down late in the first half with an apparent injury and would not return for the rest of the game.
Williams came out of the gates in the second half determined to show why they are a top-10 team in the country in Division III. The biggest difference was pace. The game clock ticked by quicker without interruption from a referee's whistle, and Williams began to properly dismantle the Owls defense. Players and ball increased their speed, serving to move around the Westfield defense and allow Williams to find open shooters.
The Ephs were always in control of the game in the second half, but they were never dominating. Westfield's offense picked up as well, and the Owls kept the lead to single digits for much of the second half. Williams cooled off after the first ten minutes when they began to get into foul trouble. Seniors Chris Galvin and Cole Teal both fouled out, and sophomore Matthew Karpowicz's four fouls limited his involvement down the stretch. Casey and Heskett made sure the Owls never got too close, hitting three pointers at critical moments to ensure the multi-possession lead remained intact.
Despite the win, the box score revealed troubling numbers for a Williams team that is ranked 6th in the nation. The Ephs continued to struggle at the free throw line going 19-28 (67.9%). They were also outrebounded (43-35) for the second game in a row. A bright spot for the Ephs has been the shooting of Casey and Heskett, which seems to improve with every game.
Williams returns home for two games before taking a 20 day break to wrap up their fall semester academically. The Ephs have four more games before beginning their NESCAC schedule.