AMHERST, Mass. – Williams (23-3,9-1 NESCAC) advanced to the NESCAC championship game after defeating Middlebury (22-3, 8-2 NESCAC) 87-80 in overtime.
The start of the first half was a back-and-forth game, but the Ephs started to take control of the game down 22-21 with just more than seven minutes on the clock. Daniel Wohl went 2-for-2 from the charity stripe, and James Klemm knocked down a 3-pointer to give the Ephs a four-point lead. Peter Lynch responded with a finish in the paint for the Panthers, but Wohl quickly finished a 3-pointer of his own to put the Ephs up 29-24. On the next Eph possession, Taylor Epley pulled down an offensive rebound before putting up a jumper to push the Eph lead to seven.
Middlebury stayed in the game with a 3-pointer from Joey Kizel. Nate Robertson put up a 1-for-2 performance from the line, and Sean Hoffmann threw down a dunk to keep the lead at seven. With 42 seconds on the clock, Jake Wolfin hit a shot from beyond the arc before Wohl finished the half with one for the Ephs. Williams entered halftime with a 37-30 lead.
The Panthers started out of the break with some momentum. Kizel went 1-for-2 from the charity stripe, and Jack Roberts finished inside to cut the Eph lead to four. Klemm, however, hit another 3-pointer for the Ephs. Nolan Thompson responded with a bucket from behind the arc for Middlebury.
The Panthers continued to fight to take control, and they finally took the lead when Lynch finished inside and was fouled. He converted the three-point play to make it 49-48 with 12:43 left in the game. Neither team pulled away the rest of the half.
With 2:58 on the clock, Wohl finished inside to give the Ephs a 72-69 lead. Lynch finished a jumper in the paint to pull within one, but Robertson scored for the Ephs. James Jensen and Epley traded layups before Jake Wolfin hit a 3-pointer from the top of the key to tie the game at 76 with just under a minute to play. The Ephs looked to score off of a layup by Wohl, but his attempt was too strong and the Panthers got the ball back with a 10-second differential between the shot clock and the game clock. Kizel attempted to drive through the lane, but Epley came up with a steal for the Ephs. Despite having some time on the clock, Williams was unable to set up a play and did not get a good shot off.
In overtime, neither team converted on its opening offensive possessions. The Ephs finally took the lead when John Weinheimer headed to the line for a 1-and-1 opportunity. He made both free throws. Lynch responded with a layup for the Panthers with 2:09 on the clock. Wohl finished in the paint for the Ephs, but Kizel hit a jumper to tie the game at 80 with 1:23 on the clock. The Ephs pulled away down the stretch with free throws as Mayer went 6-for-8 from the charity stripe and Wohl went 1-for-2 to help secure the Ephs’ victory.
Leading the way for the Ephs was Mayer with 23 points. He also posted 13 rebounds for a double-double. Wohl added 19 points for the Ephs. Klemm and Robertson each recorded 14 points while Epley added 13 to round out the double-digit scoring. Robertson also had eight assists. Williams shot 52.5 percent from the floor.
Lynch led the Panthers with 23 points and 12 rebounds. Kizel had 19 points and Wolfin 11. Wolfin also recorded nine assists. Middlebury was 45.3 percent from the floor.