New England Newspapers
SALEM, Va. -- Williams College basketball coach Mike Maker looked at the stat sheet for a second.
"We shot 58 percent from the field -- and lost," said Maker. "That’s a tough pill to swallow."
The Ephs shot 65 percent from the floor in the first half and 50 in the second, but committed 11 second-half turnovers that led to 20 points for top-ranked St. Thomas. That helped the Tommies rebound from a 12-point deficit in the first half and beat the Ephs 82-79 in an NCAA Division III Elite Eight game Friday afternoon at the Civic Center.
James Klemm, who tied for game-high scoring honors with 20 points, had a 3-point shot to tie the game blocked by Erik Tengwall as the Ephs (26-5) came back from eight points down with 5.3 seconds left. The Ephs got the ball and didn’t get a good look at the basket as a desperation trey by Daniel Wohl missed the mark.
St. Thomas (30-1) advances to a Final Four game Saturday at 6 p.m. against the winner of the game between St. Mary’s (Md.) and Mary Hardin-Baylor.
The Williams senior class of Klemm, Nate Robertson and Sean Hoffman closed their careers with three trips to Salem in four seasons.
"It’s incredible," said Klemm. "That’s what it’s all about. It’s all about the journey. It would have been awesome to have advanced and won, and get to the possibility to win a championship. What it’s all about is the journey."
The journey started well for the Ephs, jumping out to a 36-24 lead with 5:35 left in the first half. The top-ranked Tommies cut the lead to 47-39 at halftime and took the lead for the first time on a 3-point shot by Will DeBerg (20 points) with 16:12 to play. But gradually, the Tommies pulled away.
Williams fell behind 82-74 with 48.9 seconds remaining, and the Williams faithful among the crowd of 1,334 were feeling the game slip away.
Robertson, who finished with eight points and 11 assists, drove to the basket and scored with 41.3 seconds left. Maker called a timeout with his team down 82-76.
Coming out of the timeout, Klemm fouled Tengwall. The Tommies’ guard, who shoots 86 percent from the line, bricked both free throws.
Daniel Wohl got the rebound, the Ephs got into the frontcourt quickly and Robertson found Taylor Epley for a 3-ball from deep on the right wing. All of a sudden, it was 82-79 with 32 seconds left.
Klemm stole the ball from Tengwell with 15 seconds left and Maker called his final timeout with 9 seconds left. The play was set up for Klemm to shoot a trey, but Tengwell blocked the attempt, which led to the final hectic seconds.