Williams bests archrival Amherst
Following regular season split, Ephs top Lord Jeffs in Quarters
WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. -- Williams cut down the nets this evening after they beat Amherst 77-71 for a trip to the semifinals. With the two teams splitting the regular season series at one apiece, tonight’s game promised to be good. Led by their 24 points from behind the arc and 21 more from the charity spot, though, the Ephs persevered multiple Amherst comebacks to win.
The Ephs and Lord Jeffs both started the game off from behind the arc. At the 16:30 mark, Harlan Dodson nailed a 3-pointer from the right corner for the Ephs, but Conor Meehan responded on the next Lord Jeff possession with a long ball from the top-of-the-key. On the following Eph possession, James Klemm added one of his own from the top left off of an Eph offensive rebound. A few possessions later, David Waller capitalized for Amherst with a 3-ball from the top-of-the-key as well.
With the two teams trading baskets, the Ephs started to pull away at the 10:42 mark when Nate Robertson hit a pull-up jumper. Behind two free throws from James Wang, they pushed their lead to seven. At the 7:45 mark, Troy Whittington backed down his defender and dished the ball to Robertson at the top-of-the-key who knocked down the long ball to push the Eph lead to double digits. A few Amherst possessions later, Whittington stole the ball for the Ephs.
On the resulting offensive possession, he was fouled on his way up; he made the layup and the resulting free throw at the 6:26 mark to push the Eph lead to 12.
Just under a minute later, Meehan had a three-point play of his own for the Jeffs after being fouled on a layup to cut the lead to 11. At the 4:24 mark, Allen Williamson took a charge for Amherst and made a layup on the resulting offensive possession to cut the lead to single digits. With 3:29 to play, Taylor Barrise swooshed a 3-ball from the top left to cut the Eph lead to 30-24 and force the Ephs to take their first timeout. With the Ephs unable to convert out of the timeout, Aaron Toomey pulled up in transition and nailed a 3-pointer from well beyond the arc to cut the lead again.
The Ephs ended the half with the momentum though. Robertson responded for the Ephs by driving baseline for two. With his defender sealed off by Whittington, Klemm swooshed a 3-pointer from the top right with 1:10 to play. With 33.0 on the clock, Taylor Epley drove to the hoop for two to push the Eph lead to 39-34 entering the locker rooms.
The Ephs were led by Robertson’s 13 points in the first half. Meehan nearly matched Robertson with 12 for the Jeffs.
Out of the break, the two teams traded baskets. Amherst came roaring back though when Waller hit a long three from the top left to cut the Eph lead to one with 13:50 left in the game. Just under a minute later, he dished the ball down low to Jeff Holmes, who finished to give the Jeffs their first lead since they were up 5-4 early. At the 12:30 mark, Meehan swooshed a 3-ball to push the lead to four. Williams would not allow the Jeffs to capitalize, though, and responded with poise.
With 11:37 to play, Wang drove to the hoop and finished without using the backboard to cut the lead to two. After Waller scored for Amherst, Robertson scored his first bucket of the half off of a pull-up jumper. With 10:20 to play, Klemm swooshed a three from the top-of-the-key behind a screen from Whittington to give the Ephs back their lead at 55-54. On the following possession, Klemm showed he was all business when he was fouled while shooting another long ball from the top. Undaunted, he hit the three and the resulting free throw to push the Eph lead to five.
A few possessions later, Peter Kaasila responded for Amherst with a layup; he was fouled on the play but made the resulting free throw to cut the lead to six.
With 5:11 to play, Barrise back-doored and finished a pretty layup for the Jeffs. Kaasila then hit a hook shot and a put back off a rebound with 3:25 to play to cut the lead to two.
With the score close in the final minutes, Whittington responded for the Ephs with a beautiful dunk that got Eph fans screaming and gave Williams a four- point lead. The field goal was the first for the Ephs in just under eight-and-a- half minutes – a span during which they added 12 points from the free throw line including five from Wang and another four from Robertson. With 24.0 on the clock, Robertson hit a 3-ball from the top right with the shot clock winding down to push the Eph lead to seven. With Amherst unable to rally, Eph fans stormed the court as the clock wound down and the Ephs found themselves in the Final Four for the sixth time and second straight.
Leading the way tonight for the Ephs was Robertson with 22 points. Klemm added 17 and Wang 15 for Williams, who shot 49.0% from the field.
Meehan led the way for Amherst with 17 while Waller and Kaasila each added 16 for the Jeffs, who shot 39.7% from the field.
The Ephs will face Wooster at 6:00 on Friday night in Salem. The two teams also faced off in the semifinals of the 2003 NCAA tournament, in which the Ephs went on to win their only national championship.