WILLIAMSTOWN, MASS. — The Williams College Ephs (9-8) defeated Amherst (11-6) by a score of 62-60 to sweep their Little Three rival for the first time since 2010. The Ephs overcame a 14-point first half deficit, as the Chandler Gym crowd reached its highest energy level of the season.
"The fun part about playing a rival is getting a good atmosphere … it's always great to have our fans down the stretch," Eph head coach Kevin App commented after the game. "Coming and playing in this environment is one of the things we talk about during recruitment. To come out on top in two last second endings [against Amherst] was awesome."
Amherst pulled out to 12-2 lead behind nine combined points from Grant Robinson and Michael Schretter. Jovan Jones found a hole in the Mammoths' tight defense to get the Ephs on the board 3:40 into the contest, but that would be their lone field goal until 14:26 left in the half, when Jones sunk a trey from the corner.
Amherst continued to roll early, and Garrett Day scored eight consecutive points to put the Mammoths up 23-9 with 12:05 to play in the half.
Brandon Arnold got down low and used his size to find the glass on consecutive possessions for the Ephs. A subsequent Alex Stoddard tip-in saw the Ephs down eight. The Mammoths regained an 11 point lead, but Nate Karren nailed a corner three-pointer to make the score 28-20 with 6:15 to go in the first.
The defense on both sides stepped up over the closing minutes of the half, and the difference remained eight as Williams headed down the court for the final possession. After some fancy dribbling to get in the paint, Prowitt-Smith dished the rock to Karpowicz, who finished the lay-in just before the buzzer sounded. The teams would then head into the break with Amherst holding a 34-28 lead — their smallest lead in 16 minutes.
Fifteen different players scored in the half — Day was Amherst's top scorer with eight, while Arnold's six led Williams. Amherst earned an edge in the half from downtown: the Mammoths were 6-13, as the Ephs shot 2-11.
Jones began the scoring in the second half with a layup off a feed from Karpowicz. Prowitt-Smith cashed in from deep on the next possession to cut the deficit to a single point. Amherst called a 30-second timeout leading 37-35 with 16:06 left.
Henry Feinberg gave the Ephs their first advantage of the game on a corner three-pointer with 13:23 to go, 40-39. The lead would then go back and forth on two pairs of free throws from Will Phelan and Prowitt-Smith.
Tim McCarthy hit a three-pointer for the Mammoths, but Jones and Karpowicz responded with six straight points to give the Ephs a 48-44 lead with 8:57 remaining. After Amherst tied the game at 48, Karpowicz hit a one-handed jumper for another Williams lead. Prowitt-Smith then used tactful dribbling to create a lane for himself and finish a scoop layup.
Day found the hoop from long range with 4:48 left to trim the Ephs' lead to one, and his teammate Robinson found the hoop for a reverse layup to take the edge back for the Mammoths — until Mickey Babek ended a three minute scoring hiatus for Williams with a trey.
The Ephs took a full timeout with the score knotted at 56 and 2:02 to go. Prowitt-Smith found the glass to put the Ephs up one, and Jones did the same on the following offensive possession. Day went down to the other end, drew a foul, and made both his attempts from the charity stripe to make it 60-58. Williams took a full timeout up two with 30 seconds to play.
Out of the timeout, Prowitt-Smith found himself tightly covered by three Amherst defenders deep and needing to get the ball across half-court. He launched a pass to the wide open Jones, who patiently sunk a layup, increasing the Eph advantage to four.
Robinson drove to the hoop to make it 62-60, and Amherst immediately called timeout with 6 seconds on the game clock. Amherst fouled in under a second to put Stoddard on the line. He missed the free throw, but the Mammoths were unable to get off a last second three-pointer.
With the win, the Ephs clinched at least a tie in the Little Three.
Jones led the Ephs offensively and defensively this evening, putting up 17 points on 8-14 shooting while adding five boards. "Jovan is a great kid, and watching his hard work and commitment pay off has been enjoyable," App praised.
Prowitt-Smith was next in line with 14 points for the Ephs. "With our underclassmen as a whole, you've seen ups and you've seen the confidence dip a little. They've worked their way back up, and it's encouraging to see that consistency more and more," said App.
Day contributed 15 off the bench for Amherst, while Robinson and Fru Che added 11 and 10, respectively.
Williams shot 26-58 (45%) from the field on the night; the Mammoths went 23-52 (44%).
The Ephs travel to Middlebury to face the Panthers on Saturday, January 25 at 3 p.m.
"There's good and bad in every one of these close games, but I think when you pull a couple out it gives you a little bit more belief the next time. Sometimes the difference is which team doesn't get tight down the stretch, and I thought we hung in there and made plays when we had to."