Courtesy Williams Sports Information
WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. – Top-seed and defending conference champion Williams College will have a shot at winning a fifth title on Sunday following the Ephs' 79-69 victory over fourth-seeded Trinity in the semifinals of the 2011 NESCAC Men's Basketball Championship on Saturday at Chandler Gymnasium. Williams, at 25-1, will face the winner of Saturday's second semifinal between Amherst and Middlebury.
The two teams traded baskets to open the game until Jordan Mickens stole the ball with 13:35 to play. On the resulting offensive possession, James Wang dribbled baseline and was fouled on the way up. He made both the layup and the resulting free throw to push the Eph lead to four. Nate Robertson then recorded a steal of his own with 11:49 to play and took the ball the length of the court and was fouled. He hit both free throws to push the Ephs' lead to six, the largest of the game thus far for either team.
Trinity, however, was quick to respond with its game from behind the arc. Mick DiStasio hit a 3-pointer, and when Harlan Dodosn responded with one for the Ephs from the left corner, the Bantams added two more: Adam Skaggs hit one from the top-of-the-key and Ian Fels banked one in with just over ten minutes to play to cut the Eph lead to 2. When the Ephs rallied to push their lead back to six, Brian Ford swooshed yet another long ball for the Bantams from the top-of- the-key with 8:48 to play; Brian Emerson responded with one of his own for the Ephs with 6:30 to go. With just under five left in the half, Distasio added his second 3-pointer of the half and Ford made a layup off of an inbound play a minute later to cut the Eph lead to one.
The Ephs did not panic, though, and continued to play their game through the end of the half even after point guard Robertson was forced to leave the game after a hard foul. With just under a minute left, Wang knocked down a long ball from the right corner to push the Eph lead to six; going into the break, the Ephs led 42-36.
Wang and Troy Whittington were both in double digits for the Ephs in the first half with 10 points and 13 points respectively. Ford had 12 points for the Bantams in the opening 20 minutes.
The second half started as a defensive battle. Harlan Dodson and Whittington each made his presence known as they each had a block on the opening possession of the half. Just under three minutes later Eric Dean stole the ball for the Batnams; on the resulting possession, Luke MacDougall had a beautiful spin move that resulted in a bucket for Trinity.
The Ephs stayed in control until with 13:35 to play, Jared Primm dribbled the ball to the top of the key and swooshed a 3-pointer to cut their lead to one. Out of an Eph timeout, Whittington came up with a huge block with 12:55 to play.
From that point forward, he carried the Ephs on his shoulders. With 8:30 to play, he hit both chances of a one-and-one opportunity to push the Eph lead back to five. After hitting a bucket under the basket, he stole the ball and took it the length of the court to dunk with both hands with 7:16 to play, pushing the Eph lead to seven and giving the Ephs the momentum.
On the following Eph possession, Whittington was fouled on his way up; he made the layup and the free throw. With 6:00 to play, he backed down and finished to push the Eph lead to 12, the largest so far in the game.
The Ephs continued to control the game for the rest of play, but the Bantams fought until the end. Pimm swooshed a 3-pointer from the top left and after Whittington added yet another layup, Fels swooshed another long ball from the top right. The late run, however, was not enough, and the Ephs walked away with the 79-69 victory and a trip to the NESCAC title game.
Leading the way today with 31 points was Whittington. Wang added 23 for the Ephs. Both took 16 free throw attempts and shot 11 and 14 from the line respectively. The Ephs shot 47.7% today from the field.
Ford led the way for the Bantams with 20 points. Macdougall added 14. Trinity shot 38.1% from the field.