WILLIAMSTOWN -- When Williams College men’s basketball coach Mike Maker called time out with 13:08 left in the first half, his 18th-ranked Ephs trailed Wesleyan by 12 points. Five minutes later, it was 17.
"Coach Maker in the time out told us that we’re not going to get back all those points in one play," Williams guard Nate Robertson said. "We kept chipping away."
Chipping away might not be the best way to describe it. The Ephs (13-1, 3-0 NESCAC) went on a 20-0 run over the final eight minutes of the first half. The Ephs watched a nine-point lead evaporate early in the second half, but Mike Mayer’s drive to the basket was part of an 8-0 run that put the Ephs back on top. Williams went on to take a 74-65 win over the Cardinals (7-7, 1-2) Friday night before a near-capacity crowd in Chandler Gym.
Taylor Epley scored 14 of his game-high 21 points in the second half while Daniel Wohl had 13 of his 18 in the final 20 minutes.
"This is a big win. We’re now 3-0 in the league," said Wohl. "We take great pride in defending our home court and we did that tonight. We really like where we’re at."
Epley, teammate James Klemm and Wesleyan’s Shasha Brown all put 21 points into the scorebook. Wesleyan’s Glen Thomas had a double-double with 11 points and 14 rebounds.
The 30-13 deficit Williams faced after Derek Beresford drained a 3-point shot from in front of the Williams bench with 8:04 left in the half was far and away the largest the Ephs had faced all season.
It was right around that time that Maker did something he had not done in his previous four years -- play a zone. The Ephs have employed a 2-3 zone this year, and Maker said he uses it "reluctantly.
"It fits our personnel. We’re very long. We could cover a lot of ground," he said. "Under [Michigan coach John] Beilein’s tutelage [at West Virginia], we played a lot of zone and were very successful with it. It’s evolving into a weapon for us."
What a weapon it was Friday. The Cardinals were 10 for 17 from the floor getting out to the 30-13 lead. Against the zone, Williams held Wesleyan to 0-for-12 shooting in those eight minutes.
While that was happening, the Ephs got rolling. After starting the half 3 for 11 from the floor, Williams closed out on that 22-0 run. Klemm scored 10 of the last 12 points as Williams went up 35-30.
"That was something else. I’ve never been a part of a run like that," said Wohl. "When I saw it was like 30-13. Then I looked up, and we were up 35-30."
Back-to-back treys by Wohl helped extend the Williams lead to nine points in the second half. Williams took Wesleyan’s best shot in the first half and came back, and the Cardinals did the same in the second half. Coach Joe Reilly’s squad came back and when President Obama’s nephew Avery Robinson (the son of Oregon State coach Craig Robinson) hit a trey with 10:52 left, the game was tied at 50.
Mayer missed a 3-pointer, Wesleyan’s Mike Callaghan got the rebound and Thomas finished with a layup to put the Cardinals up 52-50. Williams answered with an 8-0 run and when Epley hit consecutive treys in the final two minutes, the Ephs had their win.