NCAA Quarterfinals: St. Thomas 82, Williams 79

NCAA Quarterfinals: St. Thomas 82, Williams 79

Courtesy of Williams College Sports Information

SALEM, Va. - Williams saw its season come to a close, with a heartbreaking 82-79 loss to St. Thomas in an NCAA Quarterfinal game at the Salem Civic Center. Senior James Klemm had his three-point attempt from the right corner blocked with five seconds left, and a desperation three by Daniel Wohl came after the game's final buzzer, allowing  St. Thomas to advance to tomorrow's national semifinal.

The loss ended the Ephs season at 26-5 and closed the careers of seniors Nate Robertson, Klemm, Sean Hoffman and Parker McClelland. That foursome won 102 games as a class, second most in Williams history.

Klemm led all Eph scorers with 20 points, while Taylor Epley added 16, Michael Mayer 15 and Wohl 11. Robertson finished with eight points and 11 assists.

The Ephs trailed by eight with 49 seconds left in the game, but quickly made it a one possession game as Robertson drove for a lay-in and following two missed free throws by St. Thomas, Epley hit a three-pointer from the right elbow.

The Ephs then forced a key turnover and Head Coach Mike Maker called timeout with 9.2 seconds remaining. On the in-bounds, Klemm received the ball in the corner, but Erik Tengwall closed fast and blocked the ball out of bounds with five seconds remaining.

After another timeout, the Ephs inbounded the ball to Hoffman, who turned and got it to Wohl, who was pushed to the outside of the three-point line. Wohl circled around to the right, but his shot got off late.

Will Deberg led the Tommies with 20 points while Zach Riedman added 15 and John Nance had 10 with six assists. St. Thomas (30-1) shot 46.7 percent from the floor in the game, below its nation-leading percentage, but was successful on 60 percent of its three-point attempts in the game, going 15 for 25.

The Ephs led at the half after shooting a sizzling 65.4 percent (17 of 26) from the floor. St. Thomas opened the second half on an 11-2 run, taking the lead for the first time when Deberg hit a three off the right elbow with 16:14 left.

The Ephs answered back with baskets from Mayer and Epley before Deberg drained a three from the top of the key to tie things at 53. A Hoffman dunk off a nice pass from Robertson allowed the Ephs to stay on top at the 11:04 mark, 61-58.

A couple of Williams turnovers led to St. thomas re-taking the lead on a pair of Riedman free throws with 8:36 to go and a third straight turnover then led to a three-pointer from Marcus Alipote. The Ephs fell down by six when Tommy Hannon got inside position and gently put home a lay-up with 5:51 to go.

An old-fashioned three-point play by Wohl - a drive to the basket and a foul shot -- got the Ephs back within three at 69-66. Alipote countered with another three to boost the Tommies lead back to six.

With 3:53 to go, a Nance drive and lay-up put the Ephs down by eight, the largest deficit they faced. Epley drained another three-pointer to keep Williams in it. Deberg countered with his own trey to get it back to eight. Another drive and free throw -- this one from Epley -- made it 79-74, but a pair of Tengwall free throws brought it back to eight and set up the frantic final 49 seconds.

Williams jumped out to a 18-7 lead before the first media timeout 6:05 into the contest, holding the Tommies to one shot and out on all but one of their first seven possessions.

Back-to-back threes from Nance and Tengwell made it 18-13 Williams and a Klemm trey followed by a Mayer putback gave the Ephs an eight-point lead at 23-15. St. Thomas cut that to 23-20 almost immediately on a trey by Alipate and a lay-up from Nord.

The Ephs were able to extend thier lead thanks to two threes from Epley and some fine work by Hoffman and John Weinheimer. Hoffman's tip-in with 6:57 left gave Williams a 33-24 lead. From there the teams traded baskets and the lead fluctuated between eight and 12. Mayer's hook in the paint with 1:07 left made it 47-35.