AMHERST, MASS. — The Williams College Ephs (13-12) dropped a heartbreaker in overtime 89-86 to the Amherst Mammoths (18-7) at LeFrak Gymnasium on Saturday afternoon. The Ephs never trailed by more than four, and the game came down to the final seconds in both regulation and overtime — following the trend of the previous two meetings between the teams this season.
The Ephs managed to recover their own miss and score off of a free throw down two with 2.5 seconds left to extend the game an additional five minutes. In the overtime, they twice trimmed a four point deficit to one before falling by a mere three points.
Speaking after the game, Eph head coach Kevin App said, "Just as I said last week, as a coach you want the team playing with confidence, playing at their best, and playing meaningful games in great environments this time of year. That's why these guys come here, and today was all of that. I'm a very, very proud coach for how we competed and put ourselves time and time again in situations to win."
Matt Karpowicz posted the first Eph points with a dunk 41 seconds into action. Jovan Jones then swatted away a Garrett Day layup attempt, but the Mammoths would take a 5-2 lead over the next four minutes thanks to an Eric Sellew three-pointer.
Mickey Babek cashed in a trey to tie the game at five, and the Ephs subbed out all players except Babek with 14:52 to go in the first half. It paid off, as Babek found a lane and took the ball to the rim for a three-point-play to tie the contest at eight.
Fru Che scored five straight for the Mammoths during this time, but Michael Myers and Henry Feinberg found the hoop from inside. Babek continued to prove his worth, taking a loose ball coast-to-coast to put Williams up 14-13.
After missing a three-point attempt, Spencer Spivy hit from downtown on the very next Eph possession. Babek reached double-digits with a trey of his own, handing the Ephs a 20-15 advantage with 9:24 left in the first.
Prowitt-Smith extended the edge to seven for Williams with some fancy footwork. On the following possession, he found fellow first-year teammate Nate Karren. Amherst took a timeout trailing 24-15 with 7:47 to play in the half.
After a Josh Chery basket for the Mammoths out of the timeout, Prowitt-Smith created space with a step back and converted a mid-range jumper. A few possessions later, Jones came out of nowhere to dunk over the top after Karpowicz's reverse layup was just off the mark.
Spivy would then reel off eight of the next ten Eph points. He hit from the top of the arc to extend the Williams lead to ten, and his third long range make made it 36-23. He finished a layup off of a steal to increase the lead to 15 with 3:27 to go.
The Mammoths responded with a timeout, and proceeded to go on a 10-0 run. Day hit a three and two to cut the deficit to ten, and a pair from Chery at the charity stripe saw the Ephs lead stand at eight. Devonn Allen's corner three-pointer forced an Ephs timeout with the score 38-33.
Prowitt-Smith broke the run with a free throw, only for Tim McCarthy to sink his second trey of the game. After a Prowitt-Smith deep shot, Day ended the half with a four-point-play. The teams went into the locker room with Williams up 42-40.
Day tallied 13 in the first period to lead all scorers, while grabbing six rebounds. Che put up seven for the Mammoths.
For the Ephs, Spivy and Babek had 11 points a piece on combined 8-11 shooting from the field. Prowitt-Smith contributed eight off the bench.
Sellew scored the first five points for Amherst to begin the second half. A three-pointer from Spivy and a tip-in from Feinberg took the lead back for the Ephs at 49-45.
Right on cue, the Mammoths responded with a 5-0 run and took back the lead with an Allen deep shot.
Prowitt-Smith somehow found enough space to bank in a jumper from the free throw line to put the Ephs up 53-50. After a defensive stop, Karpowicz used the glass for a five point Williams lead, their largest of the half at that point. Feinberg sunk a pair at the line, but Day hit a three to make the score 57-53.
The pace and intensity picked up, as Amherst cut the lead to two. Ryan Moon used immense handles to sink a layup for a 61-55 advantage. A minute later, Moon grabbed his own offensive rebound and found Jones for a trey and a seven point lead.
A Jones chase down block proved instrumental in denying an Amherst takeover of the lead. A minute later, Jones hit from the corner for a 68-64 lead. A layup from the sophomore on the next possession put the Ephs up six.
Grant Robinson used a scoop layup to find the hole, but Karren put the pressure right back on Amherst after battling his way through traffic. Holding a five point lead with the ball, Karpowicz hit a turnover jumpshot for a 74-67 lead with 4:08 to play.
Chery came right back with a lay-in of his own, and Sellew found Robinson down low to narrow the Eph margin to three with 3:00 to go. A Sellew layup regained an Amherst lead, and forced the Ephs to take a timeout down 76-74.
Prowitt-Smith dribbled the ball down the court with the Ephs needing a miracle. Amherst put him on the line with 2.5 seconds to go for two shots. He knocked down the first one, and all eyes turned to how or if he would miss his next free throw. He arced the shot, and it hit off the back iron on the left side of the hoop. Babek recovered possession, and as time expired, he spun and got off a layup that rolled in for the tie.
In the additional five minute overtime, Spivy and Robinson traded baskets early to knot the score at 80.
Each time the Ephs found themselves down, they continued to show heart and battle back. Jones and Sellew exchanged three-pointers, and Williams had 30 seconds to overcome an 87-83 deficit. This time Spivy stepped up, knocking down a three-pointer from the wing with 21 seconds.
Chery sunk two free throws, and the Ephs trailed 89-86 with 19 seconds. They were unable to bury a final attempt, and Amherst escaped with a win.
"I'm just really proud of this group," said App. "There's a quote outside of our locker room that says 'Our culture is not the tradition in winning, it's the people that represent Williams basketball everyday.' I couldn't be more proud of this group for how they handled individual and team setbacks throughout this season. They stayed together, kept improving and getting better, and we played our best basketball in these final three weeks."
Day led all scorers with 24 points and 12 rebounds, while Chery added 17 points and 12 boards. Amherst shot 31-73 (43%) from the floor and 16-20 from the free throw line.
Williams was led by Spivy's 20 points on 7-11 shooting (5-8 from behind the arc). Jones added 15 (3-3 from deep). Babek, Karpowicz, and Prowitt-Smith also reached double-figures. Jones and Karpowicz both had a double-double with ten rebounds each. The Ephs went 9-16 from the charity stripe.
App said, "Today in NC, some of our closest fans memorialized the life of another loyal friend and Williams supporter, Bob Bode. I wanted our team to compete in a manner Bob would've been proud of. They did that. I'm sad our season is over, I'll miss being on the court with our seniors, but I'm so proud of how we played and represented Bob and all of the Williams community."