LEWISTON, Maine — The Williams men's basketball team defeated the Bates Bobcats, 80-69. The Ephs took a decisive lead at the beginning of the second half but were forced to survive a late rally to secure the win.
Despite an even game early, the Ephs (12-1, 2-0 NESCAC) finally started to pull away with just over six minutes to play in the opening frame. After Bates (5-9, 0-2 NESCAC) cut the lead to 29-24 following a Graham Safford three pointer, the Ephs scored seven straight points. Taylor Epley finished inside off of a pass from Sean Hoffmann. Epley then finished a jumper the next time down the court. Epley kept himself in the play with an assist inside to Michael Mayer, who finished and was fouled. Mayer was able to convert the three-point play to make the lead 12. Bates, however, stole back some momentum before the buzzer with a long ball from Mike Boornazian and the Ephs were sent into the break with the 36-27 lead.
Out of the locker rooms, the Ephs quickly started a 14-6 run. Just 10 seconds into the half, James Klemm hit a jump shot off of a nice assist from Epley. Down the other end, though, Luke Matarazzo hit a three ball off of a pass from Safford. Mayer responded with a bucket from behind the arc. On the next Eph possession – which resulted off of a steal by Nate Robertson – Mayer went 1-for-2 from the free throw line. Mayer continued to carry the team with an and-one opportunity on the next possession; he converted the three-point play. Following a Safford long ball, Mayer finished yet another bucket inside. Klemm capped off the run with a three-pointer to make it 50-33 with 15:15 on the clock.
The Ephs continued to hold onto the decisive lead for much of the half, but the Bobcats started to fight back. Down 12 with 5:33 to play, Safford hit a three to make it 63-54. After a missed long-ball opportunity for the Ephs, Ed Bogdanovich finished inside to cut the lead to seven. Following a Williams timeout, Epley had a lay-up of his own to push the lead back to nine. Safford, however, hit yet another three ball, but Daniel Wohl finished inside and was fouled. He made the resulting free throw to keep the lead at nine with 3:46 left to play. The final few minutes passed with the Bobcats continuing to fight, but Williams was able to hold onto the lead and walked off the court with its second league win.
Epley led the way tonight for the Ephs with 30 points; he was 6-for-10 from behind the arc. Mayer added 22 for the Ephs on 7-for-10 shooting. The Ephs were 51 percent from the field as a team.
Boornazian scored 18 points for the Bobcats and Graham added 17. The Ephs, however, were able to hold the Bobcats to just 36.9 percent shooting on the day.
The Ephs look to continue their New England Small College Athletic Conference win streak as they return home to take on Wesleyan on Friday. Tip-off is set for 6 p.m.