cole prowitt-smith defends against suny oneonta

Cole Prowitt-Smith elevated defensively, while flanked by teammates Brandon Roughley and Nate Karren, during Williams College's home opener on Tuesday against SUNY Oneonta.

WILLIAMSTOWN — It had been 633 long days since the Williams College men’s basketball team had played a game. So what was five more minutes?

Jovan Jones hit a 3-point basket with 1:27 left in the second half to tie the score, and Williams outscored visiting SUNY-Oneonta 10-0 in overtime en route to a 79-69 season-opening win Tuesday night in the Chandler Athletic Center.

Jones was wide open in the left corner after catching a pass from Cole Prowitt-Smith, who had 16 points and 12 rebounds for the Ephs.

“Before the game, we just said reflect on what you did the last 20 months, what you did those last 633 days. All those hard days during that time. Today was the day that allowed guys to get in the gym, allowed them to visit each other and look forward to this,” Williams coach Kevin App said. “I wanted them to play with that.”

Nate Karren, who also had a double-double with 11 points and 12 boards, along with six assists, broke the ice in overtime getting inside to convert a pass from Spencer Spivy. Karren actually scored the first five points of overtime, abusing the bigger Taylor Mason. The 6-foot-11, 265-pound Oneonta center then turned the ball over and fouled Karren in the act of shooting. The 6-9 center from Sacramento made 1 of 2 free throws, making it 72-69.

Karren’s baby hook over Mason on Williams’ next trip made it a two-possession lead. The play was started when Prowitt-Smith hit the floor battling for a loose ball. The arrow gave the ball to Williams.

And when first-year Declan Porter drained a 3-point shot with just under a minute to play, Williams had its first win since Feb. 15, 2020, handing Oneonta (3-1) its first loss of the season.

“What happened is what usually happens in a first game,” App said. “You’re going against an outside opponent, your emotions get a little high, you’re getting more tired than you’re used to, you realize they’re good too and they make shots. It’s hard to grow up in the middle of a basketball game, but I thought we grew up and figured out a way to make plays.”

One of those players who grew up during the game was first-year Brandon Roughley. The 6-8 forward from Dalton by way of Wahconah and Salisbury School, finished up with eight points on 4-for-6 shooting in just 14 minutes. He had three rebounds and a pair of assists.

“It was just good to be out there,” Roughley said. “I haven’t played in a real basketball game in over 600 days. Last year was tough, because it was the first year not having basketball since I was four years old.

“It was good to be back out here and sharing the court with these guys. It was an unbelievable experience.”

The first-year was asked about how long it took the game to slow down for him.

“I think in the first half, I was kind of a little jittery from the first game,” Roughley said. “Having guys like my teammates by my side kind of helped me settle in. It was easy to come after that.”

“He’s been waiting his whole life in Dalton, Massachusetts to represent the Williams Ephs,” App said with a laugh. “He played awesome. That’s why we think we can be good. We have multiple lineups, multiple depth at each position where guys can make an impact. Brandon played great.”

Roughley made his college debut with 14:14 left in the first half, when App substituted a five-player unit of Roughley, Alex Stoddard, Ryan Moon, Brandon Arnold and Dan Kacmarek.

Stoddard and Roughley combined on a pair of 3-point shots, with Roughley getting the assists. The second one gave Williams a 19-17 lead. There were nine lead changes and one tie over the final 13 minutes of the first half. It was an 8-0 run by the Red Dragons to close out the half and give the visitors a 36-29 lead. Frankie Williams had 12 points at halftime to lead all scorers.

Coming out in the second half, Oneonta extended the lead to nine points as a hoop by Mason (10 points in the game) made it 40-31.

Porter stemmed the tied with a drive to the basket and after Jones scored on a steal-and-score play, it was 40-35, and the momentum was swinging toward Williams.

But every time Williams got within a possession, Oneonta had an answer. And when Dylan Trombley, who had a game-high 22 points, drove past Roughley for a hoop, it was 69-62. App called time out with 5:21 left.

From that point, the Ephs ratcheted up the defense. The Red Dragons did not score again, going 0 for 5 from the floor and committing three turnovers. Williams, meanwhile, scored the final seven points to send the game into overtime.

“It was definitely just next play. Focus on the next play,” Roughley said. “Getting a stop and a bucket. We battled.”

Four Oneonta players scored in double figures. In addition to Trombley and Williams, Michael Ortale had 11 points and 13 rebounds and Mason finished with 10 points.

One area that had to have the Williams coaches pleased was the fact that they had 16 assists on 31 made baskets. Williams was outrebounded 19-14 in the first half, but when the game was over, the Ephs had a 42-33 advantage.

“We didn’t make it easy,” said App. “But we grew up and learned how to win a basketball game.”

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.