WILLIAMSTOWN, MASS. — The Williams College Ephs (12-11/5-4 NESCAC) found their way by the Bates Bobcats (11-12/3-6 NESCAC) 63-51 in Chandler Gym on Friday evening. Narrowly holding a 52-48 edge, the Ephs allowed just three points over the final 5:29, ending the game on an 11-3 run. With the victory, the Ephs secured two straight wins for the first time since November.
"More than back to back wins, these were consecutive games where we competed at a high level and played with the intensity we need on the defensive end," said Eph head coach Kevin App. "I thought after the first five minutes today, we really picked it up and came out with a win. Now we have to do it again tomorrow."
Matt Karpowicz bodied his way through traffic to open the scoring, tipping in an offensive rebound off of his own shot. He found Spencer Spivy for a three-pointer from the wing just a minute later. Bates used a timeout 2:18 into the contest trailing 5-0.
Mickey Babek then took a steal coast-to-coast, putting the Ephs up 7-2. Tom Coyne created open space out of an inbounds play, and sunk a trey to cut the deficit to two. Bates grabbed their first lead with a free throw from Andrew Snoody with 12:09 left in the first, and a subsequent pair of free throws made the score 10-7.
The Ephs needed a spark, and Nate Karren provided exactly that. The center made his presence known with an inside shot followed by an emphatic block. This basket ended a 6:03 scoring hiatus for the Ephs. Another Karren layup with 8:46 to go regained a 13-12 advantage for Williams.
After four straight points from the Bobcats, Henry Feinberg and Karpowicz went on a 10-0 run themselves. The latter four points in that span were an electrifying three-pointer from the corner by Feinberg, followed by a slam from fellow senior Karpowicz. The dunk gave Williams a five point edge with 5:10 left.
Nick Gilpin then took matters into his own hands for the Bobcats, as he scored five unanswered points.
The Ephs took a 24-22 lead into the break behind six points from Feinberg and Karpowicz. The low-scoring half saw Bates shoot 8-28 (29%) from the field, with the Williams going 10-26 (39%). From three-point range, the Bobcats went 3-16 (19%), as the Ephs sunk 3-11 (27%).
Feinberg nailed his third trey of the night from the top of the arc to open the second half. The offenses on both sides were locked in early in the second half, and Williams held a 33-30 lead after four minutes of play. Highlights of this stretch included a Karpowicz assist through congestion to Jovan Jones, as well as a tough hook shot from Karpowicz.
Stephon Baxter scored nine of the first eleven Bobcat points of the second period, and a 37-30 lead for the Ephs quickly became 37-35 with 14:26 to go.
With the Ephs holding a four point lead, Babek continued the poise he has shown over recent games, confidently knocking down a three-pointer. He further displayed his veteran playmaking skills a few minutes later, as he dished to Karpowicz in the paint for an easy layup. The make put Williams up 48-39 with 8:55 remaining.
Said App, "We talk a lot about trust a lot — it's one of our core values. These seniors have been out there in many situations, and we believe they know what to do. Ryan Moon and Nate Karren also made big plays offensively and defensively throughout the game. That's the blend you hope to see, and we have a lot of options as coaches late in the year."
Jacob Iwowo, Coyne, and Jeff Spellman all hit treys for Bates over a span of 3:03 to keep the game tight.
The Ephs, however, would not let Bates come closer than four points. They surrendered just three points the rest of the way, ending the game on an 11-3 run. Jovan Jones, Karpowicz, and Feinberg were instrumental in the closing effort. Together, they combined for 14 of the final 17 Eph points. Additionally, Williams forced six turnovers over the last five minutes.
Baxter and Jeff Spellman contributed 13 and 12 points for Bates, respectively. The Bobcats went 19-61 (31%) from the field.
Speaking overall on the team's defensive performance, App commented, "Bates is a team that can really fill it up if you let them get in a rhythm, and we played with a little more intensity and really did what we talked about. They couldn't get many open threes in the half-court — I thought we did a great job there."
"Our offense wasn't pretty for stretches, especially early, but to be able to weather the storm with our defense — which we weren't doing early in the year — was great to see," he continued. "We have to keep doing it."
Karpowicz and Feinberg had 16 and 13 points, respectively, as the Ephs shot 26-58 (45%) from the floor. Cole Prowitt-Smith added 10 off the bench.
The Ephs face off against Tufts in their final regular season home game tomorrow at 3 p.m. Prior to tip-off, the Ephs will honor seniors Mickey Babek, Vince Brookins, Henry Feinberg, and Matt Karpowicz.
"You only get 24 regular season games, and they fly by. I think our seniors are feeling that, so you really hope they just come out, compete at a high level, and have some fun in their last regular season game on their home floor."