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Williams men’s hoops survives and advances to Elite Eight

WILLIAMSTOWN – In typical fashion for Williams’ men’s hoops, the Ephs will advance to Salem, Va., to play in the final Elite Eight NCAA Division 3 tournament this Saturday.

And once again, last Saturday, Williams relied on their senior leadership to fight back from being down late to reclaim victory before the buzzer sounded, this time beating pre-season no. 1 seed Virginia Wesleyan at Chandler Gym, 84-75.

“I told my team that I couldn’t be happier with a group of young men – not a lot of people had us getting this far,” said Williams Head Coach Mike Maker. “[This team] believes in one another, and we have a highly competitive basketball team that plays together and shares the ball.”

The Ephs had four guys in double figures; Taylor Epley, who eclipsed the 1,000-career point scoring plateau, led with 26 points, while junior center Mike Mayer added 23 points with six rebounds.

Senior point guard Nate Robertson added 16 points and four assists, while fellow senior James Klemm (13 points) also eclipsed 1,000 career points on Saturday.

Yet it wasn’t easy.

With just over five minutes to go, Virginia Weselyan’s Colby Heard (14 points) finished a tough post move on Mayer to put the Marlins up 70-67.

Mayer answered right back with a dunk from Robertson on a pick and roll, while Epley followed with a three-pointer from the wing to put Williams up 72-70.

The Marlins Chris Astorga, with a team-high 20 points, then collected a rebound with a put back to tie it, 72-72, with 3:54 left.

Epley answered with a drive and the foul, after knocking down the free throw; Epley finished off a feed from Mayer underneath on the ensuing possession to put Williams up 77-72.

The Marlins missed a one-and-one on their next possession, while Mayer was fouled underneath on a pick-and-roll with Robertson.

Mayer knocked down both free throws to put the Ephs up 79-72 with 1:33 left, before cruising down the stretch converting on five of eight free throws for the nine-point win.

Despite shooting 19 shots less than the offensive rebounding-minded Marlins, the Ephs knocked down 29/49 shots from the field (59 percent) and 8/17 from behind the arc for (47 percent).

“To shoot 59 percent against that team – they are a heck of a team and we are fortunate to advance – I think our offensive efficiency was very important in this game,” Maker said.

While the Marlins gathered 14 offensive rebounds and 33 overall, they are known for their full-court defensive pressure and their ability to chase opponents off the three-point line – an offensive weapon of Williams.

“We only turned it over 13 times against their full-court pressure,” Maker said. “That’s an important statistic.”

Another important statistic for the Ephs has been their ability to overcome second-half deficits, something they have had to contend with in each of their three post-season games in Williamstown.

“We been down in each of the tournament games but we just find a way to win,” Maker said. “The more this team has their backs against the wall, the better it plays.”

The SRO crowd of 1,300 in Williamstown on Saturday night didn’t hurt despite the student body out on spring break.

“We got a nice boost from the home crowd tonight, and we are on spring break, and so the turnout says a lot about our community and our student body,” Maker said.

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Posted by on March 21, 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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