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Ephs advance to second round with comeback win over Wesley

Winning ugly is still a far cry from losing pretty as the Williams men’s hoop team has learned over the past week.

After playing somewhat pretty against Amherst in the NESCAC Final before falling at the buzzer, the Ephs regrouped and “dug deep” in order to pull off a 10-point comeback in the second half to beat Wesley College (Del.) 79-78, in the first round of the NCAA Division 3 tourney.

“I thought we won ugly in a gutsy performance against a very athletic and disruptive team,” said Williams Head Coach Mike Maker.

That main source of disruption for the Ephs was Wesley’s wide body Paul Reynolds (35 points), who was both immovable and unstoppable inside the paint as well as from beyond the arc, as the senior 6’4” 245-pound forward shot an unheard of 74 percent from the field (14/19) against the Ephs’ trapping 2/3 zone.

Wesley built an early 20-9 lead in the game’s opening 10 minutes, yet the Ephs battled back to make it a 31-29 game at the half, thanks in large part to the energy brought to the offensive glass by John Weinheimer, who cut the Wolverines’ lead to 27-26 with an acrobatic lay-up after making a great save on a poor pass at mid-court.

Taylor Epley also added seven of his game-high 24 points in the final 10 minutes of the first half to keep the Ephs close.

At the start of the second half, a Reynolds three gave Wesley a 43-37 advantage with 16:07 left.

The Wolverines built that lead to 56-46 after Wesley’s Eric Selby knocked down a pair of threes and Reynolds added a trey with 11 minutes remaining.

While things looked “bleak” – the Ephs battled back to cut the lead to 56-51 with 10:04 left, thanks to a Nate Robertson (nine points, five assists) three-ball and a Daniel Wohl (seven points, seven rebounds) finish off a pass from Michael Mayer (14 points, 10 rebounds).

“Our guys dug down when it looked bleak – down 10,” Maker said. “I told our guys that good teams win when you’re not at your best.”

The turning point in the game, which electrified the home crowd, was when Mayer slipped behind the defense off a missed shot and finished off the rebound with a thunderous dunk to put the Ephs up 62-61 with 6:33 remaining.

However, neither Wesley nor Reynolds would go away – as the forward answered right back with a post move underneath to put the Wolverines back up 63-62.

The lead changed hands again, until Williams’ senior three-point marksman, James Klemm (19 points), hit a three in the corner to put the Ephs up 67-66 with 4:20 left.

Robertson then followed with a pick and roll with Sean Hoffman to put Williams up for good at 69-66.

Reynolds answered again underneath to cut the lead to 69-68, before Robertson found Klemm on a pivotal backdoor lay-up, as Klemm was fouled on the play. The guard calmly converted the free throw to give the Ephs a four-point cushion at 72-68.

“We made winning plays when we needed them – two in particular with Nate’s pass on the back cut and Klemm on the scramble play for the three – were huge,” Maker said.

After Wesley cut it to 72-70 on a short hook in the lane by Quincy Pettiford, Maker called timeout and set up a play for Epley, who hit a three from the wing with 53 seconds left to give Williams a 75-70 advantage.

The victory moves the Ephs to the second round at home against Catholic University (Washington D.C.) on Saturday (the time has not been announced at press time), as the Eph women also advanced to play in the Sweet Sixteen in Williamstown.

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Posted by on March 7, 2013. Filed under College Sports,Sports. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry
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