WILLIAMSTOWN -- It came down to free throws, and Ellen Cook made hers when it counted.
The Williams junior made two free throws with 1.2 seconds left, breaking a tie and helping the 16th-ranked Ephs knock off No. 10 Amherst 65-63 in the first game of a Little Three doubleheader at Chandler Gym.
With the win, Williams and Amherst are both 15-2 overall. It was not a NESCAC conference game.
Cook did what upperclassmen do in rivalry games. The junior from Eugene, Ore., had only nine points at halftime but finished with a game-high 26 and 12 rebounds.
"I just kept going to space. I just kept driving to the basket," she said. "People set really good screens. I think we just really played hard."
It was a game with 13 lead changes and six ties.
"I think we kind of grew up over the weekend with [a win over] Bowdoin. I think that was a real stepping stone for us, and to come back [and beat] Colby," said Eph coach Pat Manning. "I think it was a big-time learning curve for our team to play in this kind of atmosphere. We knew we had to change some things from the last time we played [Amherst]."
It would be fair to say nobody grew up more in this matchup with Amherst than sophomore forward Oge Uwanaka. The 5-foot-11 post player from the Bronx finished with 13 points and seven blocked shots, including two in the final 20 seconds when she risked picking up her fifth personal foul.
"I was thinking about that foul every two seconds," said Uwanaka. "I don't know if I was fearless. I was just trying to bring it home."
Williams led 28-26 at halftime and by as many as five points in the second half. The Lord Jeffs came back to take a 56-54 lead on two free throws by Cheyenne Pritchard with 4:02 left. From there, the now-capacity crowd in Chandler rode the seesaw home.
With 1:55 left, Kellie Macdonald (18 points) hit a 3-point basket to give the Ephs a 61-59 lead, and the Williams fans in Chandler exhaled. Amherst made them inhale in a hurry, as Marley Giddins scored four straight points to give the Jeffs a 63-61 lead with 49 seconds left.
Cook tied the game on a drive to the basket with 41 seconds to go, utilizing a nice pick from Uwanaka to get open.
Amherst worked the clock looking for the game-winning hoop but twice, Uwanaka made the block. The second one came out of an Amherst time out. Cook got the rebound, took off for the hoop and was fouled. She sank both free throws and the Ephs had the victory.
"Ellen and Kellie, our two captains, led the way and Uge was phenomenal," said Manning. "It was fun because they each stepped up at critical times."
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