Amherst Hands Ephs First NESCAC Loss
WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass — The Williams men's basketball team fell to Amherst, 65-48, Sunday. The Ephs (20-3, 8-1 NESCAC), who are ranked seventh in the country, have lost just three times this year – twice to Amherst (21-2, 9-0 NESCAC). Amherst now sits alone atop the New England Small College Athletic Conference with a perfect league record. The win also makes them Little Three champions.
Amherst controlled for most of the game. With the Lord Jeffs up 15-9, the Ephs quickly got back in the game with a lob inside from Nate Robertson to Michael Mayer. Mayer was fouled on the play and converted the 3-point play. Amherst, however, continued to push and quickly took back the decisive lead. The Lord Jeffs scored eight straight points to make it a double-digit lead. Allen Williamson made a jumper before Ben Pollack finished in the pant. Williamson then finished inside as well. Peter Kaasila capped the run with a lay-up resulting from a steal by Connor Green. He was fouled on the play but was unable to convert the 3-point opportunity. Sean Hoffmann finally broke the drought for the Ephs with a 1-for-2 performance from the line.
The Ephs then called timeout to try to gain back some momentum. Out of the timeout, they forced a turnover. On the resulting play, Mayer passed inside to James Klemm, who was alone in the lane. Klemm was fouled on the play and went 2-for-2 from the charity stripe to cut the lead to 23-15 with just under seven minutes to play. Robertson then converted both ends of a one-and-one opportunity to cut the lead to six. Willy Workman responded for the Lord Jeffs, however, as he drove to the hoop for a bucket. Mayer converted down the other end to keep the Ephs' deficit at six.
Amherst continued to hold onto the lead. Aaron Toomey knocked down a three from the top-right part of the arc with a hand in his face. Down the other end, Epley converted one of two free throws. Workman responded with the same performance from the line for Amherst. Robertson finished a layup for the Ephs, but Williams turned the ball over on its next possession, and the Lord Jeffs made the Ephs pay with a baseline three ball from David Kalema.
John Weinheimer responded for the Ephs with a huge drive to the hoop for two to make it 32-24. The Ephs were able to force a turnover on Amherst's next possession but were unable to convert off of the ensuing possession and then gave up two more points. After the two teams traded free throws, Workman swooshed a three from the top of the arc for the Lord Jeffs. The Ephs got the ball back for the final shot of the half, and Mayer finished a layup off of an offensive rebound to go into the break with the Ephs down 36-29.
Out of the locker rooms, Williamson hit a pull-up jumper in the paint for Amherst, but Weinheimer drove to the hoop for the Ephs. Williamson then hit yet another hoop for the Lord Jeffs. With the Ephs unable to convert down the other end, Amherst forced a foul and Toomey nailed a three off of the inbound play to push the lead to 12 just under two minutes into the second half. Epley responded with a finish inside, and a 2-for-2 performance at the line from Robertson cut the lead back to single digits. Amherst, however, immediately gained back the momentum with a beautiful alley-oop pass from Toomey to Williamson, who hammered home the dunk for the Lord Jeffs.
The Ephs continued to fight. Mayer swooshed a three from the top of the key before hitting a jumper just inside the arc to cut the lead to 46-40 with 14 minutes to play. The Lord Jeffs, however, seemed nonplussed as they quickly responded with a jumper from Kalema and a layup from Toomey to push the lead back to double digits. A baseline three from Toomey made the lead 13 and a downtown three ball from Workman made it 16 with just over 10 minutes left on the clock. Amherst's hot hand didn't stop there, and Toomey hit another long ball to make the lead 19. Williams was forced to call a timeout with 9:17 let to play. Unable to score out of the break, the Ephs could not gain the momentum necessary to get back in the game.
The Ephs will look to rebound on Tuesday against Trinity. Tip-off is set for 7 p.m.