WILLIAMSTOWN >> The 2015-16 members of the Williams College men's basketball team learned one thing Saturday afternoon: It's not always going to be attractive or easy.
The Williams offense scuffled for a lot of the afternoon in the championship game of the Tip-Off Tournament. But the Williams defense held Mount St. Vincent without a basket for the final five minutes of each half, as the Ephs hung on for a 69-62 win.
"It's awesome to start 2-0 this year," said Williams guard Cole Teal, who finished with a game-high 17 points and was named the tournament's most valuable player. "Both games, we started out with a slow second half. I think it shows our team's resilience. They were both close games and our team just buckled down defensively."
Unlike Friday's win over Salem State, Williams never pushed its lead beyond double digits. Williams led by nine points at halftime only to have the Dolphins come all the way back and take the lead several times in the second stanza. Jamir Ferebee, who led his team with 14 points, drove through traffic to put his team up 59-57 with 5:26 remaining. From there, Williams held Mount St. Vincent to three free throws, outscoring the Dolphins 12-3, to claim the win.
Mike Greenman, who had 14 points for Williams, hit a decisive 3-point basket with 3:31 to play.
"This is why you play these early-year tournaments. We've got to win two games in a weekend, and it's got to be different guys," Williams coach Kevin App said. "It's not always going to be pretty, especially on Saturday."
Friday night, Williams had three players score in double figures and all were freshmen off the bench. Saturday afternoon, App had three scorers in double figures. All of them were starters. With 15 points, Dan Aronowitz was the other double-digit scorer.
The five freshmen who came off the bench combined to score 14 points, fewer than Bobby Casey had on Friday when he led the Ephs in scoring.
In the first half, Williams outscored Mount St. Vincent 6-1 in those final five minutes and then outscored the visitors by nine in the last five of the second half.
"I think that's a sign too," said App when asked about those defensive stands. "Sometimes when we get competitive in crunch time, we get undisciplined. I thought actually this time, when we needed to, we stayed a little more disciplined. That's a sign that we're learning and we're getting better."
In Friday's win over SUNY-New Paltz, the Dolphins played man-to-man defense. Except for a few instances on Saturday, they played a 2-3 zone against the Ephs. Mount St. Vincent coach Brian Nigro said that's not how they ordinarily play, but he said it was necessary.
"With their offense that they run, which is read and react and motion, it was going to be very difficult for us to guard them," he said. "We're a very young team with 13 underclassmen. We thought we'd be able to match up better size-wise and contest the shooters out of the zone."
Williams actually made 5 out of 6 3-point shots to open the game. That didn't last, and Mount St. Vincent hung with the Ephs throughout the half, trailing Williams 36-27.
The Dolphins outscored Williams by 12 points to open the second half, taking a 47-46 lead on a trey by Ferebee. The teams traded leads until the Ephs went 5 for 6 from the line to take a 62-59 lead.
Madison Martinez hit a pair of foul shots to make it 62-61. On the next possession, Aronowitz penetrated into the lane and dished back to Greenman, who swished an NBA-range 3-point hoop, and the Ephs could breathe.
"Young guys and veterans made plays down the stretch," said Teal. "It was guys stepping up all around."