BRUNSWICK, Maine — It took an overtime period, but the Williams men's basketball team defeated the Bowdoin Polar Bears (12-8, 3-5 NESCAC) 76-64 Saturday. With the nail-biting win, the Ephs stay perfect at 8-0 in the New England Small College Athletic Conference and are 20-2 overall.
The game was evenly matched from the tip-off and neither team was able to pull away in the first half. Tied up at 19 with 7:28 to play, Bryan Hurley hit a three for the Polar Bears. Epley immediately responded with a pair of his own, though, for the Ephs to give them the 25-22 lead. Epley's hot hand was not enough to spur the Ephs on a run, however, and Keegan Pieri hit a jumper for Bowdoin to pull within one. After Michael Mayer finished in the paint, Matt Mathias hit a long ball for the Polar Bears to tie the game up at 27 with five minutes to play.
After Epley put up a layup for the Ephs, Bowdoin scored seven straight points to take their most decisive lead of the half at 34-29. Mathias hit another three and a layup, and Maximilian Staiger hit a jumper. The Ephs stole back the lead, though, as Ryan Kilcullen went 1-for-2 from the charity stripe, and Nate Robertson, Epley and Daniel Wohl finished inside. Andrew Madlinger ended the half with a layup for the Polar Bears, and the two teams entered the locker rooms tied at 36.
Out of the break, the Ephs looked like they were going to pull away when they went on a 10-0 run that started with a jumper from Mayer just over three minutes into the half. He followed up the bucket with a three-ball off of a pretty pass by Robertson. Epley then finished inside. Mayer ended the run with an and-one opportunity in the paint. He converted the three-point play to make it 49-40 with 13:37 to play.
The Polar Bears quickly came bounding back. Staiger made a layup and Mathias hit a three off of a pass from Hurley. The next time down the court, Mathias sunk yet another 3-pointer to pull Bowdoin within one point of the Ephs.
Williams, however, continued to hang on to their lead behind the stellar offense of Mayer. Out of an Eph timeout, he finished in the paint. Down the other end of the floor, though, Lucas Hausman was fouled on a putback. He made the layup and the free throw to tie the game up at 51 apiece. The Ephs responded with a pair of free throws from Mayer and a 1-for-2 performance from the line by Robertson. Mayer then threw down a dunk off an assist by Robertson that gave the Ephs the 56-51 lead.
Pieri responded for the Polar Bears with a jumper and long ball to tie the game back up. Mayer finished in the paint for the Ephs, but the Polar Bears finally regained their lead from early in the half with a pair of free throws and a lay-up from Staiger. Mathias went 1-for-2 from the charity stripe to push the lead to 61-58, but James Klemm came up huge for the Ephs with a three to tie the game up with a little less than two minutes on the clock.
With just under 45 seconds to play, the Ephs inbounded the ball from behind the basket on their offensive end. Robertson attempted to drive to the hoop, but Pieri came up with a huge steal for the Polar Bears. Bowdoin was able to have the last shot, but a downtown three at the buzzer by Mathias would not fall and the two teams headed to overtime tied up at 61 apiece.
Mathias refused to let his missed opportunity get to him as he hit a three to open the overtime period. Wohl went two-for-two from the line, and the Ephs took back the lead when Mayer hustled to keep a rebound in play. It resulted in a wide-open three ball from Robertson. Wohl finished in the paint to make it 68-64 with just over two minutes left to play in the extra period. Bowdoin was able to force a turnover on a travel call but could not convert on the offensive end, and the Ephs pulled away with easy layups by Wohl and Klemm. With the Polar Bears forced to foul, Robertson and Wohl both went to the line as time wound down. They were both perfect from the line, and the Ephs walked off the court with the hard-fought victory.
All five starters were in double-digits for the Ephs. Mayer led the way with 22 points and also grabbed 11 boards for a double-double. Epley put up 21, and Klemm and Wohl each had 11 points while Robertson added 10. Wohl narrowly missed a double-double with nine rebounds. The Ephs shot 48.2 percent from the floor.
Mathias led the way for Bowdoin with 20 points. Staiger added ten, and Pieri 13. Hurley had 14 assists for the Polar Bears.
The Ephs return to the court on Friday to take on rival Amherst in Chandler Gymnasium. Game time is set for 6 p.m.