WILLIAMSTOWN — Sometimes with a young basketball team, it's not how you win, rather it's that you win.
"We looked like a young that's lost a couple of games. We want to win so bad, we're letting past games influence our energy level, our excitement," said Williams coach Kevin App, after his Ephs (13-7) eked out a 67-63 win over Maine-Fort Kent (18-13) Monday afternoon.
"I thought that happened in the first half. I was really proud of the guys," App said. "I thought they stepped up and made plays to help us win.
"That's why you play these games. That's why you have non-conference games."
Dan Aronowitz's two free throws with 3.3 seconds left iced the victory for Williams, but it was freshman Bobby Casey's big second-half performance that helped the Ephs rally for the victory.
Casey, back in the starting lineup because Chris Galvin was banged up and did not play, had a huge second half for Williams. The lefty from Scranton, Pa., made a 3-point shot in the first half, but scored 13 in the second half to finish with a team-best 16 points. Casey also had four rebounds and two assists.
"Especially with how I played at the end of the first half and how we played as a team, I didn't think we had much energy," said Casey. "I think it was my responsibility as a point guard to kind of spark us."
In his postgame remarks, App said that Maine-Fort Kent might have sounded like a pushover, but had come into the game having won one more game (18) than Williams had played (19). The Bengals have only two players from Maine while having six from California along with one from Greece, one from Croatia and one from England.
Williams led 28-26 after a back-and-forth first half. But the Bengals came out and opened with a 9-2 run in the second half. The run was keyed by six points from Marquis Glenn, who finished with a game-high 20. It was a drive to the basket by Glenn with 9:42 left to play that put Fort Kent up 49-42. The Ephs were staggering.
Enter Casey. The freshman scored off the bounce to open a 11-2 run and put the Ephs back on top. He scored seven of those 11 points.
Then, with the game tied at 58, Casey used a screen by Ed Flynn to get free and hit a trey that put the Ephs ahead 61-58 and they never trailed again.
"They hit some really tough shots. A lot of credit to them for hanging around," said Williams' Dan Aronowitz, who finished with 12 points. "We need to be a little sharper defensively with our rotations."
Casey and sophomore guard Adam Kroot helped keep the Ephs in the game. Kroot hit a couple of big 3-point hoops in the first half, while Casey all but took over in the second.
"Give a lot of credit to our guys, being ready to play when they're number is called," said Aronowitz. "We have a lot of confidence top to bottom that guys can make plays."
For his part, App said he was happy that his team was able to win and erase some of the pain of losses to Middlebury and Amherst. But Williams has a big weekend at 22nd-ranked Wesleyan and Connecticut College. The Ephs were 58-56 losers to the Cardinals back on Dec. 5.
"This is where not having a lot of upperclassmen worried me a little bit. We're putting a lot of pressure on Aronowitz and Flynn to lead everything every single game," said App. "I was really proud of Bobby, and Kyle [Scadlock] and Marcos Soto. They're starting to play like veterans.
"We've got to get our enthusiasm back and not worry from one game to the other what has or will happen. Just lock in and play."
Williams will get that chance in Middletown, Conn., Friday night.