Williams men's basketball rules Route 2 after win over MCLA
NORTH ADAMS — The final score may not have indicated it, but for Williams men's basketball coach Kevin App, playing MCLA is a valuable experience.
"This has been a great game for us, where in the last few years, they really get us a lot better," App said. "They expose some stuff we need to improve at."
It was a wire-to-wire win for Williams, as sophomore Spencer Spivy had a career-high 22 points and the Ephs rolled to an 87-57 win over their Route 2 rivals Tuesday night at the Amsler Campus Center gymnasium.
"It was this game two years ago that showed us how to tighten up some concepts defensively," App said, "to use our length better against teams like MCLA, that have great shooters and great ballhandlers.
"That's why I say it's an important game for us every year, because they show us areas that we've got to improve at."
Williams is now 4-1, and has won its last two games. MCLA, on the other hand, has now lost two straight and falls to 3-4. The Trailblazers were coming off a one-point home loss to Becker on Saturday.
"Obviously, you don't like to come in and lose by 30," MCLA's Hayden Bird said. "Games like this will definitely help us when it comes to conference [games]."
Bird came off the bench to score eight points for MCLA. No Trailblazer scored in double figures. Noah Yearsley had nine points, while Bird and Quran Davis each had eight and the reigning MASCAC rookie of the week Chris Becker was held to seven points and six rebounds. Pittsfield's Quentin Gittens had four points, five rebounds and two steals off the bench for MCLA.
The Williams defense held Yearsley almost five points below his season average, while Mike DeMartinis had four points, almost nine below his average.
"I think teams are only scoring 56 points up against them to this point. I think they're a good defensive team," MCLA coach Derek Shell said. "I think they use their size and their length to clog up the middle. We just didn't have the success getting into the paint that we would have needed to score in the paint, or drive and kick too much."
Spivy had his second career-best night against MCLA. A year ago in Williamstown, he had what was then a career-high 16 points. On Tuesday, the sophomore from San Francisco shot 6 for 11 from 3-point range and 4 of 5 from the foul line for his 22 points. Spivy missed his first couple of shots before draining his first trey midway through the first half. Matt Karpowicz found Spivy on the left wing for the 3-pointer. The score was 15-13 in Williams' favor when Spivy hit the trey. Four minutes later, Spivy had another one as part of a 15-0 run by Williams that knocked the wind out of the Trailblazers.
"I think it was honestly the team, they really supported me. I've missed a lot of shots recently," Spivy said. "For me, I have the support of the team behind me. They tell me to keep shooting, and that's what I do."
"I thought early, we were shooting it after one or two passes. Once we started getting some ball movement, it was a little bit better," App said. "That end will take care of itself.
"Defensively, we didn't put forth our best effort, but our length and athleticism helped us at times."
Williams led 40-21 at halftime behind nine points each from Spivy and Jovan Jones. Yearsley had six and Bird five off the bench.
Yearsley drained a 3-pointer to start the second half and Becker scored inside after an offensive rebound, cutting Williams' lead to 14. A couple of stops and a couple of MCLA hoops might have made it an interesting second half.
Instead, Spivy hit consecutive 3-pointers to stem the tide, and MCLA never got any closer.
The icing on the cake, the cherry on top of the sundae — pick your analogy. Brandon Arnold accomplished both when he took a pass from Spivy in stride and jammed the ball through the hoop with 4:30 left.
Everybody gets Thanksgiving off now. Both teams will return to work after the holiday.
Williams will jump right back into the fray with a Sunday game at Albertus Magnus in Connecticut, before wrapping up with home games against Fitchburg State and Springfield.
MCLA will host Sage on Tuesday, Rivier on Saturday and play at Elms on Dec. 10. Then both teams will go on break.
"I'm happier today than I was yesterday," MCLA's Shell said. "We still have a long way to go. I felt like we dropped a couple of games we should have gotten at this point."
Howard Herman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, at @howardherman on Twitter or 413-496-6253.
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