February 1, 2010

In an anticipated match-up of two teams ranked in the top ten nationally, Williams topped Middlebury 79-64 in front of a huge crowd at Pepin Gym on Saturday. The fourth-ranked Ephs improve to 19-1 overall and 5-0 in NESCAC play, while eighth-ranked Middlebury drops to 17-2 and 4-1 in conference action. For the game the Ephs shot .537 from the field and connected on 8/16 threes, while Middlebury hit .355 and was 6/21 from behind the arc.

The Panthers, with top scorer and rebounder Ryan Sharry (Braintree, Mass.) sidelined with an injury, saw Williams shoot well early, going on a 7-0 run at the 8:26 mark to take a 22-12 first half lead. Blake Schultz scored five of his half-high 14 points during the spurt. The lead increased to 13 on a hoop from Joe Geoghegan with 5:16 remaining. Middlebury chipped away, getting back-to-back three's from junior Jamal Davis (Brooklyn, N.Y.) and first-year player Jake Wolfin (Woodcliff Lake, N.J.) to make it a 30-25 game with 1:57 left in the half. James Wang of Williams hit a three as time expired in the first half to give the Ephs a 35-27 lead at the intermission. Williams shot .519 from the floor in the first half, while Middlebury connected on just .333 of its shots.

In the second half, Williams maintained a double-digit lead through the first four minutes of play before a jumper by senior Tim Edwards (Greenwich, Conn.) cut the deficit to 43-34 with 15:49 remaining. A pair of free throws by Davis at 15:00 trimmed the lead to 43-36. A five-point burst from Williams, highlighted by a three from Wang gave the Ephs another double-digit cushion at 48-36 with 14:09 left.

The Panthers cut the lead to 50-43 after a pair of free throws from Wolfin at 12:04, before Schultz connected on a three at 11:51 for a 53-43 advantage. Middlebury went on a 9-0 tear, slashing the ten-point Williams lead to 53-52 at 9:09 after a three-pointer from first-year player Nolan Thompson (Akron, Ohio). The sharp-shooting Ephs answered, hitting six of seven shots from the floor during a pivotal 15-5 run, for a 68-57 lead with 3:24 left.

After trading baskets, Middlebury put Williams on the line down the stretch. The Ephs hit 9/12 from the line, as the Panthers' shooting cooled off in the final minutes, connecting on 2/7 from the field.

Schultz led all scorers with 25 points, netting 8/13 from the field and 5/5 from behind the arc. Wang kept pace with 24 points as Troy Wittingham added 17 points off the bench for Williams. Davis paced Middlebury with 17 points, including two threes, while Thompson added 14 and a game-high four steals and Edwards added eight and a game-high 10 rebounds.

Earlier in the week, Middlebury improved to 17-1 on the season as the eighth-ranked Panthers earned a 94-68 road win at Southern Vermont. The 94 points were the second-highest offensive output for the Panthers this season.

Middlebury shot .452 from the floor in the win, placing five players in double figures. Wolfin led the way with 18 points, followed by Edwards with 14 points, 10 boards, four assists and three steals. First-year player Peter Lynch (Westford, Mass.) and junior Andrew Locke (Seattle, Wash.) each scored a dozen, while Davis added 11 points and six rebounds. Joe Karnik led Southern Vermont with 15 points.
. Men's basketball record: 17-2
. Up next: 2/5 vs. Bowdoin - 8:00, 2/6 vs. Colby - 4:00