AMHERST — Williams College freshman forward Kyle Scadlock said his first Williams-Amherst basketball game was everything his team said it would be. Well, almost everything.
"It was a great environment, a packed house, it was really fun," said Scadlock. "Before the game, all the returners were trying to tell the freshmen 'you don't get too many games like this.' It was a great experience."
The ninth-ranked Lord Jeffs used a 12-3 run in the first half to take the lead against the Ephs and held off every Williams run down the stretch to score a 78-66 win Friday night at LeFrak Gymnasium.
"A lot of credit to [Amherst]. They executed their game plan well and made runs at the right time," said Eph Dan Aronowitz.
Ed Flynn scored a career-high 16 points for Williams, while freshman Bobby Casey came off the bench to score 13 and Scadlock added 12.
Amherst, the top-scoring offense in NESCAC, was held 13 points below its average. The Lord Jeffs were paced by Connor Green and Jeff Racy, who had 16 points each.
It was opening night of NESCAC conference play for both Williams (8-4) and Amherst (11-1).
Three of Williams' freshmen — Scadlock, Casey and Marcos Soto — all played double-figure minutes, and all performed their rolls well. Casey had three of Williams' 13 assists and one of the Ephs' two steals.
Scadlock had nine points at halftime in a game that saw the Ephs trailing 37-32 at the break. He was 1 of 5 in the second half.
"To be honest, I just didn't put two halves together," said the 6-foot-6 freshman from Cleveland, Ohio. "It was me not playing my best. I'll be better next time."
It was Scadlock's dunk with 17:11 left in the first half that put the Ephs up 6-2. Two minutes later, Racy stole the ball from Soto and took it to the iron to start that first run for Amherst. Racy hit back-to-back 3-point baskets to extend Amherst's lead to 14-9.
Williams cut the lead to 19-17 on a Scadlock hoop, but the Lord Jeffs answered again. This time, it was a 10-2 run that included a four-point play by Green. With 6:26 left in the half, the Ephs trailed 30-19, and it looked like the game would be over.
The Ephs responded and trailed 37-32 at halftime.
Williams opened the second stanza with hoops by Aronowitz and Flynn, forcing Amherst coach Dave Hixon to call time out with 18:20 to play.
Amherst responded with a 10-0 run, including a David George dunk and 3-pointers from Jayde Dawson and Johnny McCarthy, and Williams was held at arm's length after that.
"I think in the first half, we looked like we had some anxious and nervous energy and we played little tired, a little passive. That was disappointing because we constantly talk about whoever we're playing, we have to come out and do what we have to do," said App. "When we did that, we were good. We just didn't do it enough for the entire game."
For the game, Williams was 9 of 18 from the foul line, and at one point missed six straight free throws in the second half.
The Lord Jeffs were outstanding taking care of the basketball. They had only five turnovers to 13 for Williams and had a 17-8 advantage in points off of turnovers.
"The key was just weathering their storms. Basketball is a game of runs and every time they came after us, we came back three times harder," said Green. "That was the key. We made big shots, made the extra pass, and that was the key."
As the odd team in this year's NESCAC schedule, Williams has Saturday off and then travels to Hartford, Conn., Sunday for a game against Trinity. That will be a big change for the Ephs.
"It can't hurt us. We'll practice. We'll get better," said App. "We'll focus on what we need to improve and then figure out a way to get a win on the road Sunday, hopefully."