WILLIAMSTOWN, MA – Emily Chang's career-high 30 points put the Williams Ephs (16-5, 5-2 NESCAC) on top of the Trinity Bantams (15-5, 4-2 NESCAC) in an 83-76 affair featuring two evenly-matched teams.
It was fitting that on the Ephs' senior day, Emily Chang '20 had a game to remember, pacing all scorers with 30 points and hitting a remarkable 8 of her 14 three-point shots. Led by Chang along with guards Maggie Meehan '21 (19 points, 2 assists) and Mikaela Topper '21 (16 points, 5 rebounds, 3 steals), the Ephs' offense scored their most points (83) against a NESCAC opponent this season.
"Overall, this was a tremendous team win," commented Eph head coach Pat Manning following the shootout win. "Trinity's a very talented and explosive team, and we had to play 40 minutes for this one."
Today's win – the Ephs' third straight – marked the first time in at least four years that the Ephs have swept a back-to-back in NESCAC play. "We had some practice by sweeping three back-to-backs earlier in the season, but we've historically struggled with back-to-back NESCAC games," said Manning. "But today, everybody was locked in."
Peace Kabari led the Bantams with 26 points and 11 rebounds, consistently challenging the Ephs both on the boards and behind the arc. Though Trinity enjoyed an efficient shooting game, making 30 of 63 (47.6%) of their field goals, they only shot eight three-pointers, making four of them.
The Ephs started hot on offense, scoring 23 first-quarter points and staking themselves to an early lead. Though Chang ultimately became the Ephs' greatest weapon from behind the arc, Meehan hit 3 three-pointers in the first quarter and led the Ephs with nine points.
Williams maintained its lead in the second, as both teams scored 15 points in the quarter. This time, Topper took the reins for the Ephs, pacing the team by scoring 8 points, grabbing 3 rebounds and recording two steals. At the half, Chang had already scored 10 points, but the best was still yet to come.
Chang played a strong first half, but exploded in the third quarter with six three-pointers on just seven attempts. As a result, the Ephs extended their lead from nine points at the end of the first half to 20 at the end of the third quarter. In the third quarter, Chang scored more points by herself (18) than the entire Trinity team (17).
The Bantams put up a strong fight in the fourth, but it wasn't enough to erase their 20-point deficit. Peace Karabi's free throw narrowed the Eph lead to five with 41 seconds to go, but the Ephs held on and never let the game get within one possession. Meehan scored eight of the Ephs' 17 points in the quarter, hitting five of her six free throws to keep the Bantams at bay.
Meehan's free throws were particularly important, as Trinity has come back from seemingly insurmountable deficits this season. On January 25th, the Bantams trailed by nine with under 1:30 to go against Connecticut College, but stormed back to win the game by three. This time, though, the Ephs kept their foot on the gas long enough to prevent Trinity from coming all the way back.
A day after beating Connecticut College despite a lack of efficiency, the Ephs enjoyed one of their best shooting games of the season against a formidable opponent. The Ephs made 25 of 50 (50.0%) of their field goals and 14 of 28 (50.0%) of their three-pointers, thanks largely to the excellent play of Chang, Meehan, and Topper.
Chang wasn't the only Eph senior to stand out, however, as Katie Brule '20 played a strong all-around game with seven points and seven rebounds. "I was so happy for our seniors," remarked Manning. "Emily had a career day, and Katie [Brule] made some key baskets for us and crashed the boards for us hard."
Though the Bantams outrebounded the Ephs 41-32 and outscored them in the paint 46-18, it wasn't enough to top the Ephs on a day when they clicked so well on offense.
Manning is confident that the Ephs' versatility and adaptability will lead to further success down the road. "We have a complete team. It's not like you can stop the team by just stopping one person. We can score in a variety of ways, and we've got a lot of confidence in our younger players."
Next Friday at 7:00PM, the Ephs continue their homestand with their second game against Wesleyan this season. Williams won their first game against the Cardinals, 68-49, on the road.