Jones goes for the basket

Williams College's Jovan Jones goes for the basket during a game against MCLA earlier this season. Just six days remain before the first-semester schedule ends for local college teams. 

It might seem like the local college sports teams just got their seasons started. Come Saturday, the first semesters for athletes at Williams and MCLA will be over.

For the college hockey and basketball teams at the two colleges, the end of the semester means finals. When the athletes return after Christmas, it also means getting ready for conference play.

So, with six days left, here’s how things look.

College hockeyThe Williams men sit atop the standings in NESCAC with 12 points. Points are as important as wins because of new NCAA regulations.

If a game is tied at the end of 60 minutes, there will be a five-minute overtime period featuring 3-on-3 play. That’s what the NHL does. For conference games, a three-player shootout would follow. In non-conference games, the contest would finish in a tie after overtime.

The current NESCAC standings have regulation wins, overtime wins, regulation losses and overtime losses on the standings page. Teams get three points for a regulation win, two points for an overtime win, 1 1/2 points for a tie and one point for an overtime loss.

That is why Williams, with a 4-2 overtime record, is leading NESCAC with 12 points. The Ephs have gone 4-0 in conference play, beating Tufts and Middlebury this past weekend. Sunday night, third-period goals by Jack Sabre and Jack Forrest helped the Ephs beat the Panthers 3-2.

Wesleyan is second with 9.5 points, followed by Hamilton with 7.

The Williams men have two more NESCAC games this weekend, hosting Hamilton Friday night and Little Three rival Amherst on Saturday at 3 p.m.

The Williams women are tied for fourth with five points, based on one regulation win, one overtime win and two regulation losses. The overtime win came on Saturday in Clinton, N.Y., as the Ephs swept a weekend set against then 10th-ranked Hamilton. Ellia Chiang’s goal late in overtime pushed the Ephs to a 2-1 win.

Williams is done with its first-semester NESCAC schedule. The Ephs will host William Smith for games Saturday night and Sunday afternoon.

As Williams heads into the final week, the Ephs will bring the reigning NESCAC player of the week with them.

Senior forward Meghan Halloran had two goals and one assist as the Ephs went 2-0 at Hamilton, winning 4-1 and 2-1 in overtime. Halloran had the Ephs’ first goal, an early second period tally, that gave Williams a 1-0 lead, in the 4-1 win. She scored the Ephs’ lone regulation goal and set up the game-winner in overtime in the 2-1 victory.

College basketball

The MCLA men head into Tuesday’s game with Elms on a two-game winning streak. The Trailblazers beat Sage and Northern Vermont-Lyndon after dropping a decision at Williams.

The Trailblazers are 4-5, with only Westfield State above .500 in non-league play. The Owls are 7-2.

MCLA has two men’s games remaining before the break as Thursday’s game against Fisher was postponed. The Trailblazers added a contest at UMass Lowell on Saturday

Elms will have to stop MCLA’s top scorer Hayden Bird if the Blazers are to have a chance. Bird is averaging 20.4 points per game and had 24 in the win over Northern Vermont-Lyndon. The senior is just outside the top 50 scorers in the nation.

In that win against Lyndon, Bird’s former Drury teammate Reece Racette had nine rebounds and five assists.

The MCLA women are 0-8, but if one looks at their final scores, seem to be improving. In their first six losses, they lost by an average margin of 54 points, but in the last two, the margin was 11.

MCLA will host St. Joseph (Conn.) Thursday and travel to Northern Vermont-Lyndon on Saturday to close the semester.

On the west side of Route 2, the Williams men head into their final two games with a perfect 7-0 record.

The Ephs rallied in the second half to hand Little Three rival Wesleyan its first loss of the season. That was the non-league game between the two, as the NESCAC game will be played in Williamstown on Feb. 4.

Williams closes its semester with a Thursday home game against Union and a road contest at Springfield on Saturday.

The Williams women have won two straight, beating Cabrini and Babson to claim the title of the Shooting Touch Classic. Maggie Meehan and Mandy Mandyck were named to the All-Tournament team.

Like the men, the Williams women have two games remaining on their schedule. First up is a Thursday meeting at Smith College. Smith has won two straight against Williams, and the Ephs haven’t won in Northampton since 2016.

Williams will close the semester with a non-conference game against Little Three rival Wesleyan on Saturday afternoon.

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.