CLINTON, NY – In an NCAA Elite Eight contest, the 9th ranked Christopher Newport Captains (29-3) earned a 79-70 victory over the 19th ranked Williams Ephs (23-7). The loss marked the end of the impressive careers of the Ephs' six seniors: Bobby Casey, James Heskett, Kyle Scadlock, Michael Kempton, Marcos Soto, and Jake Porath.
"This senior class means the world to me," said Williams Head Coach Kevin App. "They were the first group that said they wanted me to be their head coach. They made it their goal to leave a mark on a program that already had a lot of history. Even though three of them were 1000 point scorers, the entire class was always all about team and each other. They were a joy to be around for four years."
Both coming off hard-fought victories yesterday, the Ephs and Captains struggled to find any rhythm on the offensive end early in the game. After junior Matt Karpowicz finished a layup inside to score the game's first points, the Captains reeled off an 8-2 run to build a lead they would not relinquish the entire game.
Though Williams struggled to take care of the ball, solid shooting together with a couple impressive individual efforts from Scadlock helped the Ephs stay close. They never trailed by more than seven in the half. In fact, with 2:33 remaining, Casey had two free throw attempts to tie the game at 28, but missed the second. The Captains would take a 32-30 lead into the break.
Scadlock and Karpowicz led the Ephs with 9 points and 8 points respectively. As a team, the Ephs shot 12 of 22 (54.5%) including 3 of 6 (50%) from three.
Marcus Carter led the Captains with 14 points and 4 rebounds at the break. As a team, Christopher Newport shot only 12 of 29 (41.4%) to go along with 4 of 13 (30.8%) from downtown. Regardless, the Captains forced 11 Eph turnovers to help them retain the lead.
After both teams missed on their first attempts of the second half, Christopher Newport's Tyler Femi drilled a three to put them up 35-30. This basket seemed to set the tone for the rest of the half. A layup by Savonte Chappell gave the Captains a 40-32 lead with 15:52 on the clock. After a closely contested first half, the Ephs suddenly found themselves needing to combat a sizable deficit.
It looked like Williams had clawed their way back into the game when Soto drilled a three from the top of the arc to make it 46-43 Christopher Newport with 11:22 left. But the Captains' Jason Aigner responded with a three of his own to push their lead back to six.
A layup by Carter with just 3:21 remaining extended Christopher Newport's lead to 13 at 67-54. With almost no margin for error, Williams responded with a timely 4-0 run, but another layup by Carter with 2:17 left increased the lead back to double digits. By the time Casey hit his first three of the game to make it a six-point game at 76-70, there was only 18 seconds remaining, and it was too late.
"I thought we gutted it out and found ways to make some runs. But they answered every time and they did a great job of handling our runs," said Coach App.
After a strong first half shooting-wise, the Ephs struggled to find open looks in the second half. They ended up shooting 25 of 53 (47.2%) from the field including 8 of 23 (34%) from three. Christopher Newport also shot an underwhelming 26 of 54 (48%), but committed only 11 turnovers to 17 for the Ephs.
"We knew it was going to be a complete contrast from yesterday," said Coach App. "But that's what makes ths tournament so fun. Statisically, us and Christopher Newport were two of the top defenses in the country and you could see why. They are a very well coached, disciplined team."
Casey finished out his terrific career with 18 points, 5 rebounds, and 4 assists. Scadlock added 13 points and 9 rebounds.
Carter stole the show with 27 points, 5 rebounds, 5 assists, and 3 steals. Chappell added 17 off the bench.
The seniors finished their careers with a record of 84-32 (.724), which included trips to the NCAA Final Four (2017), NCAA Elite Eight (2019), and a NESCAC Championship (2018).