WILLIAMSTOWN -- There were hugs and handshakes for Paul Culpo from his Pittsfield family and friends. Not even the hugs could wipe away the sour feeling the Castleton State men's basketball coach had after his team was routed by Williams.
The loss was hard enough to take, but the 96-52 final score marked the worst loss of the season for Culpo's Spartans, a team that came into Wednesday's game at Chandler Gym averaging 90 points per game.
"It wasn't very much fun," said the former St. Joseph's basketball standout of coaching his first game in Berkshire County. "Coaching here, the game's the same. It's fun to see my friends and family, sure. It was a lot more fun than watching the game."
Williams trailed 8-5 with 16 minutes left in the first half, but used a 23-5 run in the first half to break the game open and earn Williams head coach Mike Maker his 100th career victory.
Williams is now 7-1 on the season and Maker is 100-23 in his fifth year.
"It's simply a reflection of having a lot of good players that are outstanding young men. It's about the program. It's not about the coach," Maker said. "I feel very privileged to be the coach here and feel a great responsibility to make sure that we put a product on the floor that everybody in Berkshire County can be proud of."
You might be hard-pressed to come up with an MVP for the Ephs on this night.
Taylor Epley had a game-high 13 points, Nate Robertson had 10 and John Weinheimer came off the bench to score 10.
Castleton came into the game averaging 90 points per game. The Spartans didn't get close. It was 46-24 at halftime and the Spartans shot only 9 of 34 from the floor. For the game, they shot 24.6 percent from the floor and made only 9 of 39 shots from 3-point range.
"There's definitely been more of a focus on defense since I've been here," said Eph guard Nate Robertson. "I think we're even more of a defensive minded team.
"Saying that, I think our offense is starting click a little bit more. We're starting to get deeper into options."
The win was especially impressive for the Ephs, who were playing their second game in as many days and were coming off a track-meet kind of game Tuesday at Curry. One might have expected the Ephs to maybe not have as much energy. After a bit of a slow start and trailing 8-5, they made 5 of their next 6 shots to take a 15-10 lead. Culpo couldn't slow the Ephs down, calling two time outs during that 23-point burst. In fact, the Castleton coach had used five of his six time outs before the midpoint of the second half.
"We put a lot of focus coming into these games on mental toughness," said Robertson. "I think our team is really rallying around that point."
Logan White, who came into the game averaging 19 points per game, was held to seven.
"There were a lot of things that didn't go well in the game tonight. But the biggest one of all is the mentality," said Culpo, whose team has two tough conference games this weekend. "Being able to take the floor, regardless of the opponent, and playing the way you play. We didn't do that tonight. That's the bottom line."
"I have to do a better job coaching them and they have to do a better job believing."