CLINTON, N.Y. — The Williams College men's basketball looks to continue its joy ride through the 2019 NCAA Div. III men's basketball tournament Friday night when it tips-off against No. 2 ranked Whitman College (28-1) in a third round game scheduled to tip-off at 5:30 p.m. on the campus of Hamilton College.
The Ephs, 22-6, advanced to the sectional round of the tournament with wins over Husson University and Gwynedd Mercy last weekend, waving good-bye to Chandler Gymnasium with a demonstrative 90-56 victory over the Griffins as seniors James Hesektt (30), Bobby Casey (21) and Kyle Scadlock (11) combined for 62 points. The Blues, who have won 24 consecutive games coming into the Friday tilt with Williams, are in the sectional semifinals for the fourth year in a row after defeating Texas Lutheran and No. 11 Pomona Pitzer at home last weekend.
"There are 16 teams left and they're all great programs," Ephs' head coach Kevin App said. "There is going to be some high-level basketball this weekend all around the country. We get to square off against Whitman and they've been a staple at the top of Div. III for the last three or four years. They play a unique style that I think our guys are excited to go up against."
Whitman finished first in the Northwest Conference with a 16-0 record, won the conference tournament, and earned an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament. The Blues are led by senior Austin Butler (11.5 points per game and 4.3 assists per game), who was the NWC Player of the Year, senior Joey Hewitt (16.5 ppg.) and senior Jack Stewart (11.1 ppg). The Whitman senior class is 113-5 to date, and is considered the all-time winningest senior class in Div. III history.
The Blues lead Division III in scoring margin (23.2 ppg.) and free throws made and attempted, and they are third in scoring offense (104 ppg.) and steals per game, fourth in turnover margin and turnovers forced, 11th in 3-point field goals made per game, and 15th in field goal percentage. They have made 335 3-points baskets this season, fourth in the country.
"They're a confident basketball team," App said of the Blues. "They press, they really want to play a high-possession game. They'll make sure they get good shots on the offensive end. They test you mentally more than anything. It'll be our decision making, our poise with the ball (that will be key to winning)."
Williams is ranked 16th/19th in the nation and fourth in the Northeast region.Senior guard Bobby Casey was named to All-NESCAC First Team this season. Casey is third in the NESCAC in points per game and first on the Ephs team averaging 18.5 this season. He is also first in the NESCAC and Williams for assists averaging 4.4 per game. Classmate James Heskett was named to the All-NESCAC Second Team, and is averaging 17.6 points per game. He has made 230 three pointers in his career with 165 coming in the last two seasons.
No. 9 Christopher Newport University (27-3) will take on host No. 10 Hamilton (25-4) in the second game Friday, scheduled to be played at 7:30 p.m. Friday's winners will meet Saturday at 7 PM with a spot to the Div. III Final Four on the line.