Williamstown, Mass. - The sixth-seeded Williams College Ephs (13-11/6-4 NESCAC) will head to third-seeded Amherst (17-7/7-3 NESCAC) to face-off against their Little Three rival for the third time this season on Saturday, February 22 at 4:00 p.m.
"This time of year, you want to be doing two things: playing your best basketball of the year, and playing meaningful games," said Eph head coach Kevin App. "I think we've been playing our best the last couple of weeks, and there's nothing bigger than playing against your rival on their home floor in the playoffs. It'll be a great environment and a fun opportunity."
Williams holds a 123-105 edge in the rivalry, dating back to 1901. This will be the 18th NESCAC tournament meeting between the teams, with Amherst leading 11-8. In NESCAC quarterfinals, the series is tied 1-1.
The Ephs' program has five titles to its name, with the most recent coming in 2018 over Wesleyan.
After a 3-0 finish to the regular season, the Ephs are looking to make some noise in the conference tournament. Said App, "We are competing at a level that I think you need to compete at to win. I think that's why we had success those last three games — our defensive intensity, our ball movement, our decision making. We look now like a team that knows their roles. Our defensive numbers the last three games have been the best they've been all season, and that's fun to see."
Amherst captured their eighth NESCAC crown last season, and look to defend home court this weekend. The Mammoths reeled off victories in eight of their culminating nine games to earn the third seed in NESCAC. They average 83.3 points per game on 47% shooting from the field and 40% from long range.
Junior guard Garrett Day leads the Mammoths in scoring with 14.3 points per game. Senior forward Eric Sellew averages 7.3 rebounds to go along with his 13.4 points.
Both regular season meetings between the Ephs and Mammoths came down to the wire, with Williams coming out ahead each time.
In the first meeting, Spencer Spivy's two free throws with 28 seconds left put the Ephs up by one, and they stepped up on defense to take the victory 72-69 at LeFrak Gymnasium.
Just eleven days later at home, Jovan Jones' energy on both sides of the ball helped the Ephs recover from a 14 point first half deficit. He and Cole Prowitt-Smith scored in the final two minutes to seal a 62-60 win.
Sellew was the leading scorer for Amherst with 22 points in the first clash of the season, but missed the second encounter. He will be back in the lineup for the Mammoths on Saturday.
Despite the two wins this season, Saturday's matchup will present new challenges for the Ephs: "Every time you play somebody, it's a whole new experience based on where those teams are at physically, mentally, and emotionally at the time," App remarked. "Playing a team for the third time, there are no tricks or gimmicks. This will be our sixth time in the last two years playing against a lot of these guys, so they know what we do well and we know what they do well. It's about which team can stick to it and make more plays."
For Ephs fans who make the trek to Amherst, tickets will be available at the door.
"In our history of Williams vs. Amherst, we've been spoiled with playing a lot of meaningful games in late February and March," App stated. "Five of our last seven games against each other have come down to the final ten seconds. I think you're going to see a high level basketball game between two teams that know each other well and really want to win. The outcome could go either way."