Effort does not always translate on the scoreboard in college basketball. Saturday afternoon in Williamstown, it did — and in a big way.
“I think it was the best 40 [minutes] of all-out effort,” said Williams coach Kevin App, after the 20th-ranked Ephs rolled to what turned out to be a lopsided 78-53 win over Middlebury at Chandler Gym. The win ended Middlebury’s three-game winning streak against Williams and a current 12-game winning streak.
“I thought we played just incredibly hard. We’ll see [on tape] how the execution was,” App said, in a phone interview with The Eagle. “I enjoyed it. It was a big game against a team that’s had our number the last couple of times we played them and was sitting there above us in the [NESCAC] standings.”
The Panthers (14-3, 4-1 in NESCAC) rolled into Williamstown not having lost since Nov. 20. With the win, Williams improves to 14-1 and 4-1 in conference play.
First-year Declan Porter scored 17 points, sharing game-high honors with Middlebury’s Alex Sobel. Porter was 6 for 8 from the floor and 5 for 7 from 3-point range. Nate Karren had 16 for Williams and Cole Prowitt-Smith had 12. Prowitt-Smith had a game-high nine rebounds, adding four steals and three assists.
First-year Brandon Roughley scored seven points, but the Dalton native and former Salisbury School product pulled down eight rebounds, six of them in the second half.
Since losing to Amherst at home back on Jan. 8, the Ephs have won four straight. Three of them have been on the road, at Bowdoin, Colby and Wednesday in Amherst.
Middlebury gained an early 6-3 lead with six unanswered points. Jovan Jones hit a game-opening 3-point shot, but Middlebury big man Alex Sobel answered with consecutive hoops and a pair of free throws by Noah Osher.
Having scored only three points in the first 4 1/2 minutes, Karren lifted the lid off the basket when he got inside against Sobel for his first basket.
Williams forced 16 turnovers and outscored the Panthers 20-10 in points off of turnovers. The first three came when Prowitt-Smith turned Jason Bobbert over and started the offense heading the other way. The sophomore guard found Porter in transition and the first-year drained a 3-pointer, giving Williams an 8-5 lead. The Ephs never trailed again.
Williams erupted and went on a 19-4 run that not even two timeouts called by Middlebury coach Jeff Brown could stop. A second 10-2 run in the final five minutes helped give Williams a 35-24 halftime lead.
“Middlebury’s one of the best rebounding teams in the country, so I think that’s what we did well. We finished possessions by making sure we got rebounds,” App said. “During that stretch, we got a couple easy in transition, so we went on a couple of runs. It all started with not letting them get second chances.”
When the horn sounded, Williams held Middlebury to only 24 points and led 35-24. The Panthers shot 9 for 28 from the floor and were 3 for 8 from 3-point range. On the other hand, Williams was 14 for 31 from the floor and 5 for 16 from 3-point range. While the Ephs did not make a shot from outside the arc over the final eight minutes, they were able to maintain the lead.
Trailing by 11 is not an insurmountable margin. Being outscored 7-0 to open the half will make it insurmountable. As he did in the first half, Jones opened the second half with a 3-point basket. Prowitt-Smith turned David Brennan over and took it coast-to-coast, dunking. Then, after Jones rebounded a Sobel miss, Prowitt-Smith took the Middlebury big man off the dribble for two. All of a sudden, it was 42-24. Brown called a time out, but the damage was done.
Roughley was one of Williams’ unsung heroes on Saturday. The 6-foot-8 forward only made 1-of-5 shots from the field and was 0 for 2 from outside the arc. He did go 5 for 6 from the line and his eight rebounds were a career-best.
“He’s just a winner. He makes great plays. He’s big, he’s physical. I think the advantage of having a guy like him on the perimeter is that rebounding aspect,” App said, “where he can come flying in and get us some second chances.”
As the calendar turns to the new week, Williams is going to have a pretty busy week ahead as the Ephs will play four games in seven days. It all starts with a Tuesday road game at SUNY New Paltz, home games this coming weekend against Connecticut College and Trinity, and a Monday matinee against The College of New Jersey.
Bobbitt 1-3 0-0 3, Osher 4-11 4-4 13, Brennan 0-3 0-2 0, Sobel 8-19 1-3 17, Stevens 3-12 3-5 10, Goldman 1-3 0-0 2, Shin 0-0 0-0 0, Pitcher 0-0 0-0 0, Smith 0-0 0-0 0, Moore 1-4 2-4 4, Zodda 2-3 0-0 4. Totals 20-58 10-18 53.
Karren 7-10 1-2 16, Spivy 2-8 3-4 8, Porter 6-8 0-0 17, Jones 3-8 0-0 8, Prowitt-Smith 5-11 1-1 12, Stoddard 3-5 0-0 8 Roughley 1-5 5-6 7, Moon 0-0 0-0 0, Taylor 0-0 0-0 0, Glatzer 1-3 0-0 2, Kacmarek 0-1 0-0 0, Arnold 0-3 0-0 0. Totals 28-62, 10-13 78.
Halftime — Williams, 35-24. 3-point goals — Middlebury 3-17 (Bobbitt 1-3, Osher 1-4, Stevens 1-7, Goldman 0-2, Moore 0-1). Williams 12-31 (Porter 5-7, Karren 1-3, Spivy 1-6, Jones 2-5, Prowitt-Smith 1-3, Stoddard 2-4, Roughley 0-2, Arnold 0-1). Rebounds — Middlebury 40 (Sobel 13, Stevens 6, Brennan 6). Williams 37 (Prowitt-Smith 9, Roughley 8, Jones 4). Assists — Middlebury 7 (Bobbitt 2, Stevens 2). Williams 14 (Prowitt-Smith 3, Spivy 3). Turnovers — Middlebury 16, Williams 7.