WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — The Williams men's basketball team lost its first game of the year when Stevens (5-0) came back from a 10-point halftime deficit to win 75-69. With the loss, the Ephs move to 5-1 on the year.
The two teams were evenly matched early. The Ephs looked like they might gain some momentum just over seven minutes in when Parker McClelland stole the ball off of an inbound pass and passed ahead to James Klemm, who finished inside without using the board to make it 13-10. The Ephs looked to take the six-point lead on the next offensive possession when John Weinheimer had a beautiful pass to McClelland on the wing, but he was unable to convert the long ball opportunity.
Down the other end, the Ducks responded with a quick pair of threes. James Sheldon hit a pretty three pointer before Russ Thompson nailed a huge long ball from well beyond the arc to give Stevens the 16-13 lead. Klemm responded with a long ball of his own on the next Eph possession to tie the game up.
The two teams traded baskets for a period of time before the Ephs started to gain control with a pair of back-to-back threes of their own. Taylor Epley sunk one from the right side of the arc and Ryan Killcullen added one from the same spot on the other side of the floor to make it 26-19 with 8:22 on the clock.
After trading hoops, the Ephs gained some momentum when Weinheimer stole the ball and took it the length of the court for two – finishing the basket while falling to the floor. The Ephs finally pushed their lead to double digits off of a beautiful pass from Nate Robertson to Matt McCleary, who finished the lay-up and was fouled on the play. While he missed the resulting free throw, his hoop gave the Ephs the 33-23 lead with 4:12 on the clock. McCleary then finished a drive in transition to push the lead to 12. On the next possession, Robertson swooshed a three from the top left portion of the arc to make the lead 15.
The Ducks continued to work hard at the other end of the court as Sheldon Jones finished a three from the top-right of the arc to cut the lead to 12. Kenny Gan then hit both shots on a one-and-one opportunity to make it 40-30 with just under a minute to play in the first. After forcing a turnover, the Ducks looked to cut the lead to single digits but Patrick Sabatino missed an easy lay-up inside. The Ephs were unable to convert on their final opportunity of the half and took the 40-30 lead into the locker room.
Out of the break, Stevens rallied back. They cut the lead to five behind a bucket inside from Matt Skrelja. He was fouled on the play but unable to convert the three-point opportunity. After the Ephs failed to score down the other end, however, Gan finished inside to cut the lead to 44-41 and force the Ephs' first timeout at 16:22. Klemm was unable to convert a three pointer out of the break and Sabatino has a pretty finish off of a lay-up.
The two teams traded several possessions where neither managed to find the inside of the iron, but Robertson finally pushed the Ephs’ lead back to three with a pair of free throws. Epley then converted a three-point play when he was fouled on a transition lay-up to make it 49-43 just over six minutes into the half.
The two teams traded hoops before Skrelja picked up a loose ball in the back court and finished the transition two to make it 51-49 with 12 to play. After they forced an Eph turnover, the Ducks tied the game up behind a drive to the hoop from Jones. Jones had the opportunity to give the Ducks their first lead since early in the first half after a foul on the play, but he was unable to convert from the charity space.
After trading buckets with the Ephs, the Ducks did finally take their first lead of the half at 55-53 behind a pretty spin move inside from Andrew Meszaros with just under 10 minutes to play. At the other end of the court, though, Mayer responded with a pair of free throws for the Ephs.
After getting a pair of free throws from Sabatino, the Ducks pushed their lead to five when Thompson sunk a three pointer from the right baseline. Weinheimer, however, answered for the Ephs with one of his own from the top left portion of the arc.
After trading points, Stevens pushed its lead to 66-62 with 2:26 on the clock. Robertson blocked a shot from the top of the key, but Gan got the loose ball and finished a lay-up for the Ducks. After the Ephs missed their next shot, the Ducks looked to add to their lead by going inside. They missed a pair of shots but were able to get consecutive offensive boards before Thompson finally finished. Down the other end, Robertson cut the lead to 68-64 with 38 seconds on the clock.
Out of a timeout, the Ephs went into a full court press, but Jones was able to beat a trap in the right corner of the court with a pass ahead over the midcourt line. The Ephs were forced to foul Thompson, who made both ends of a one-and-one opportunity.
The Ephs, however, refused to go away quietly as McClelland came up huge with a three ball from the left baseline with 23 seconds to play. Out of another Eph timeout, Thompson returned to the line for the Ducks and made both once again.
Robertson stopped the clock and had an opportunity of his own from the charity space after he forced a blocking foul on Skrelja, his fifth. Robertson made both to make it 72-69 with 15 seconds left. The Ephs were able to force Stevens to take a timeout on the ensuing inbound play, but were unable to get a steal out of the timeout. Jones and Thompson both made free throws for the Ducks and the Ephs were unable to convert a desperation three-point attempt as they walked off the court with their first loss of the year.
All of the Duck starters scored in the double-digits. Leading the way was Jones with 18 points. Thompson was second with 16 points.
Mayer led the way for the Ephs with 14; Epley added 13 and Robertson 11. The Ephs were 43.4 percent from the floor on the night and while they shot 58.3 percent in the opening frame, they converted just 31 percent of their opportunities in the second.
The Ephs will look to rebound on Tuesday at Curry. Tip-off is set for 7 p.m.