jovan jones shoots a layup

Jovan Jones and the Williams College men got back in action in the new year with a win on Friday night.

Twenty-seven days after the last time the Williams College men's basketball team took the court, the 17th-ranked Ephs notched their 10th victory.

Declan Porter and Cole Prowitt-Smith combined to score 26 points and the Williams defense held visiting Hamilton without a basket for the first 10 minutes of the second half, as Williams scored a 62-45 win Friday night in Chandler Gym. It was the NESCAC opener for both teams. Porter had a game-high 14 points and Prowitt-Smith added 12.

The announced crowd was 300, with it being made up of only students.

"We looked like we had a long time off," Williams coach Kevin App said in a phone interview with the Eagle after the game. "We looked a little tired in the first half, but got those legs back under us and really buckled down defensively in the second half. I think our depth showed. Their big senior [Eric] Anderson got in foul trouble, which limited their depth a little bit more. We were kind of able to make it hard on them."

The 45 points were the fewest given up by a Williams team since Nov. 16, 2019, when the Ephs beat SUNY Poly 83-48.

With the win, the undefeated Ephs are off to their first 10-0 start since they won their first 15 games in the 2018-19 season.

Williams was 9-0 at the semester break, but due to COVID-19 issues, three contests were either canceled or postponed. One of those games was a highly-anticipated contest between Williams and then No. 1 Yeshiva.

Instead, the Ephs went from Dec. 11 until Friday without playing a game and with practices somewhat disjointed due to precautions at the college. Hamilton, however, had played one game and beat SUNY Geneseo earlier in the week. So coach Adam Stockwell's Continentals came into Williamstown a little more game ready.

The first half was a back-and-forth affair, and was tied 29-29 at halftime. There were six lead changes and two ties in the first 20 minutes, and Hamilton was able to tie the game up by holding Williams without a point for the final 2 minutes 18 seconds of the half. Williams first year Declan Porter had 11 points on 4-of-5 shooting from the field and he was 3 for 4 from 3-point range in the half. Those points kept the the Ephs afloat until the start of the second half.

Williams came out strong in the second half, and for more than 10 minutes, came close to pitching a shutout.

The Continentals missed their first nine shots of the half and committed six turnovers before former Berkshire School standout Hank Morgan hit a jumper from the right elbow with 9:51 to play in the second half. That ended a 15-2 half-opening run by the Ephs. The only two points came on a pair of free throws by Conor Rood.

Spencer Spivy took the lid off the basket in the second half on a drive to the hoop on Williams' second possession of the half. He could not, however, complete the old-fashioned, 3-point play.

Not even a timeout midway through that run could slow Williams down. When Porter caught an inside-out pass from Nate Karren and hit a trey, the Ephs went up 44-31. That dagger shot made the rest of the night somewhat academic, as the Continentals only cut the Williams lead to nine points the rest of the way.

"We let Hamilton's switching slow us down in the first half. In the second half, we started driving and keeping it moving, and making the extra pass," said App. "Declan hit that one three with the ball [whipping around] to extend the lead and kind of put the game away."

Williams was able to use its length and its ball movement to get inside against Hamilton, scoring 26 points in the paint. Williams also had 18 points off of turnovers, 14 of those coming in the second half.

Williams used a 10-player rotation and got quality minutes out of sophomore Alex Stoddard and first-year Evan Glatzer. Stoddard had nine points in the opening win against SUNY Oneonta but was hurt and hadn't played since. Glatzer has been slowly working his way into the rotation. He was needed Friday because regular rotation player Marc Taylor was out. Taylor could be back next week.

"Alex has played so well in practice and he's worked so hard last year to kind of improve his body and get ready to go. He played great in our first game, and then not getting a chance to do it. It was a lot of fun to see him out there," App said. "Evan has just gotten better and better every practice and every game. He's earning more minutes with his size and IQ off the bench."

Prowitt-Smith had a game-high nine rebounds. Eph center Nate Karren had eight points, seven rebounds and six assists.

It was hard to decide what made App happier, winning or getting through those 27 days without a game.

"We were just so excited to get back out there and compete. It doesn't matter as long as it's us together competing," said the Eph coach. "We've got to make the most of those situations. It was great to get some students in there. They seemed a little bit nervous to make some noise, just getting out of their testing protocols this week. Hopefully we can get some more in there and get it going tomorrow against Amherst."

The Mammoths will arrive in Williamstown carrying a three-game losing streak after dropping a 78-64 decision at Middlebury on Friday night.

Howard Herman can be reached at  hherman@berkshireeagle.com or 413-496-6253. 

Sportswriter-Columnist

Howard Herman is a sports columnist at The Berkshire Eagle. The dean of full-time sportswriters in Western Mass., he has been with the Eagle since 1988, and is a member of the New England Baseball and Basketball Hall of Fame.