AMHERST, Mass. – Despite a 21-2 surge and being outscored in the second half by eight points, Williams College was able to hold on to take down No. 15 Amherst College men's basketball, 72-69, handing the Mammoths their first conference loss on the season in New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) action Saturday afternoon at LeFrak Gymnasium.
Dropping their first NESCAC loss, the Mammoths move to 10-4 (1-1 NESCAC) in the opening weekend of conference play, while Williams jumps back in the win column, improving to 7-6 (1-1 NESCAC).
With the game up for grabs for the majority of the first half, the Ephs created separation in the final minutes, going on a 10-0 run while shooting an imposing 57.7% from the field and 77.8% from the line, while the Mammoths held a 9-3 advantage in second chance points.
With the Mammoths shooting 34.4% from the field heading into the halftime break, Fru Che '21 led the home side with a team-high 11 points, while Michael Schretter '22 added four rebounds and two points off the bench. Amherst was 5-14 (35.7%) from beyond the arc while the Ephs shot 15-26 (57.7%) from the floor and 37.5% (3-8) from downtown.
Down 40-29 at halftime, Eric Sellew '21 swayed the momentum back to Amherst's corner with a monstrous stretch of scoring during the Mammoths 21-2 run to open the second half. From the 18:18 mark to the 16:04 mark, Sellew threw down three highlight-reel dunks in an extraordinary two and a half minutes of play.
Capping off the run with a layup from Che with 13:26 remaining, the Mammoths saw themselves up eight points (50-42) before the Ephs answered with a 12-3 run to regain the lead at the 9:06 mark.
Going score for score during the final nine minutes of the game, with the lead never exceeding four points for either side, Spencer Spivy came up big for the Ephs after draining four pivotal free throws in the final minute to keep Williams on top.
Devonn Allen '22 drilled a three-pointer with 13 seconds remaining to bring the Mammoths to within one, but they were forced to foul as Henry Feinberg netted two free throws with three seconds remaining. In the waning seconds, Garrett Day '21 was able to split down the middle of the court and get off a good look from three, but the ball hit the back of the rim and out, solidifying the Ephs conference win.
Amherst improved their shooting percentage from the first half, finishing the game shooting 41.5% from the floor as Sellew led with a game-high 22 points, 13 of which came from the second-half alone. Che and Allen contributed to the scoring with 17 points apiece while Josh Chery '20 and Schretter controlled the boards with five, respectively.
Shooting above 50% from the floor in both periods, the Ephs were led by Matt Karpowicz who shot 9-12 (75%) from around the rim for a team-high 21 points while Spivy added 19 and three boards. The Ephs held a slight edge in bench points (8-7) while the Mammoths notched nine second chance points and 14 points off turnovers.
Next up, Amherst hits the road for a three-game away stint, facing off against Bates on Friday, Jan. 17, at 7:00 PM. The Ephs take on St. Joseph (Conn.) in a non-conference showdown on Tuesday, Jan. 14 at 7:00 PM.