Williams men, women ready for next round
WILLIAMSTOWN -- The Williams College men's and women's basketball teams now know who and when they'll be playing this weekend.
The Williams men will get to make a curtain call in Chandler Gym on Saturday as the Ephs host Virginia Wesleyan in an NCAA Division III Sweet 16 matchup. The site was announced on Sunday, but a time has not been determined.
The Williams women, meanwhile, knew they were heading for a date with DePauw on Friday in the Division III Final Four at Hope College in Holland, Mich. The Ephs now know they will play the No. 1 team in the nation in Friday's second semifinal. Amherst and Wisconsin-Whitewater will play in the first game. The national title game is Saturday at 7 p.m., with the consolation game at 4.
When the Williams men walked off the Chandler floor Saturday afternoon after beating Catholic University 89-78, the Ephs didn't know where they would be playing. It was the same situation when Williams beat Wesley in a first-round game back on March 2.
"We said that last week when we were in here," said guard Nate Robertson, who along with guard James Klemm will play their final games in Chandler on Saturday. "To be honest, I'm just happy to be coming out with the ‘W,' happy about the environment and happy to have another game to play with these guys and under Coach [Mike] Maker."
Maker has taken three different Williams teams to the NCAA Tournament, and the Ephs have only played games in Chandler or the Salem (Va.) Civic Center -- home of the Final Four.
Williams now knows that it will be at home against a Virginia Wesleyan team that knocked off regional rival Christopher Newport 80-69.
Maker said that he was ready to start working on a game plan for Virginia Wesleyan on Sunday.
"I think I'm getting better at enjoying every victory. I told our guys that having the opportunity to win on your home court in front of family and friends, the student body and the townspeople is important to me," said Maker, "and I think it's important to my players. Enjoying that is every bit as important as next week."
Williams finds itself in a rematch situation on Saturday night. The Dolphins of head coach Dave Macedo came to Williamstown for a Sweet 16 game in 2011, and the Ephs beat them 79-73. Williams went on to beat Amherst in the Elite Eight game and then went to the Final Four.
Of the 16 teams still alive in the tournament, three are NESCAC teams. Amherst and Middlebury have also advanced to the Sweet 16, and those rivals could meet in a Final Four game. Williams is on the other side of the bracket, and the Ephs could play a NESCAC rival in a potential national championship game.
There's a similar situation in the women's Final Four as both Williams and Amherst will be making the trip to Holland, Mich.
Williams and Amherst are on opposite sides of the bracket and would only face each other in a national championship game.
"I'm just so happy for our team and for the seniors to have this experience," Manning said after the Ephs beat Whitman 63-53 in the Elite Eight game on Saturday night.
Since losing to Amherst in the NESCAC Tournament title game, the Ephs have been playing better each time out.
"Any time you're in the NCAA Tournament it's kind of a fresh start," said Williams forward Claire Baecher. "We came in taking it one game at a time and focusing on each one. It's worked for us so far."
The Ephs will se a DePauw team that is not only No. 1 in the country, but is 32-0 after beating Christopher Newport 76-55 on Saturday night.
The Tigers are the sixth team since 2007 to enter the Final Four unbeaten. Twice Amherst came into the Final Four undefeated and lost in the national semifinal. Howard Payne and George Fox won national titles in 2008 and 2009, respectively.
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