The Williams College men's basketball team opened NCAA Division III Tournament play with an impressive, wire-to-wire victory.
Five different Ephs scored in double figures as Williams rolled to a 95-57 win over Atlantic East Conference champion Neumann in the first game of a first-round doubleheader at the University of Mount Union in Alliance, Ohio.
"In these Friday games in the NCAA tournament you're playing for another day together and another day to compete," Williams coach Kevin App said after the game. "But tomorrow, you're playing for another week together. We'll rally around that and be prepared for whoever we play."
Whoever Williams plays turns out to be Stevens Institute of Technology. The Ducks knocked off 11th-ranked, and pod host Mount Union 84-74, in what had to be one of the bigger upsets of the tournament's first day.
The Ephs, now 17-4, and Ducks will play Saturday at 5:50 p.m., with the winner advancing to the Sweet 16 round next Friday.
The Williams-Stevens winner will play the winner of Saturday's game between Emory and Wabash. Emory beat Averitt and Wabash downed Berry, in the other two matchups on the Williams quadrant of the bracket.
Going into the game, Neumann coach Jim Rullo admitted he was concerned about two facts regarding 3-point shooting: 1. Williams shoots the ball very well from long range, and 2. the Knights don't. Without a 3-ball in a team's arsenal, catching up becomes problematic.
Williams shot 51.9 percent from outside the arc, making 14 of 27 shots. The Knights (21-8), meanwhile, attempted two 3-pointers in the first half and made one. In the second half, Neumann was 0 for 7.
For the game, the Ephs shot 34 for 57 from the field, good for 59.6 percent. The Knights were 24 for 59, which is pretty good on many nights. On this night, it was anything but.
Neumann had the game's first shot, but Jalen Vaughns missed a jumper. Jovan Jones got the rebound, the Ephs went quickly into the frontcourt and Jones found Spencer Spivy on a drive to the basket. Spivy, who shared game-high scoring honors with Cole Prowitt-Smith, was fouled by Tony James and completed the 3-point play.
Vaughns got the Knights on the board when he scored on a putback of a miss by Ryan Starr. That was as close as Neumann got. And before the clock went under 10 minutes, Spivy drained a 3-pointer for a 10-point lead.
Williams led 53-30 at halftime, and kept the lead between 30 and 40 points for most of the second half.
"We've been building to this tournament for two years," App said. "March is not the time to take a possession off, and we wanted to just keep playing and keep enjoying it. I think every guy who came for us just competed and made plays they're comfortable making."
Spivy was outstanding, going 6 for 7 from the floor, 2 for 3 from 3-point range and 5 for 5 from the foul line. Prowitt-Smith was 7 for 8 from the field, 2 for 3 from long distance and 3 for 4 from the line.
Putting together a perfect box score was Alex Stoddard. The sophomore from Wellesley was 5 for 5 from outside the arc and finished with 15 points. Jones finished with 12 points and Brandon Roughley had 13 off the bench for the Ephs.
"This is the kind of thing you dream about as a kid — playing in the NCAA tournament," Stoddard said after the game. "So to get the opportunity with these guys is the best feeling in the world."
In the second game, Stevens rallied in the second half to beat Mount Union 84-74.
The host Purple Raiders led 41-38 at intermission. The Ducks heated up in the second half, shooting 54 percent from the floor and missing only one of six 3-point shots attempted.
Mount Union went 3 for 15 from outside the arc in the second half, and was unable to shoot its way back into the game.
Stevens (17-8) was led by Matt LaCorte, who had 31 pints. He was 9 for 11 from 3-point range in the game. Mount Union (23-5) was led by Darrell Newsome's 22 points.