Williams pulls away in second half to beat MCLA men in Route 2 rivalry
Williams outscored MCLA 52-14 in the paint and out-rebounded the Blazers by a 57-28 margin.
Kyle Scadlock led the way with 20 points and 12 rebounds. James Heskett had 20 points, including four 3-pointers and eight rebounds. Bobby Casey added 14 points off the bench.
"More so our size on the defensive end, I don't think we were using that to our advantage," Williams coach Kevin App said of what allowed his team to pull away in the second half. "We were really just kind of playing lazy and sinking in the paint. It gave them some rhythm shots and they knocked them down."
Eight of MCLA's 15 first-half field goals were from 3-point range
Back to back 3-pointers by Noah Yearsley and former Drury player Hayden Bird put the Blazers up 29-23 with 10 minutes, 50 seconds left in the first half. Mike Demartinis added a driving layup and Antoine Montgomery made two free throws, expanding their lead to 10. Williams responded with consecutive baskets, but Yearsley answered with a 3-pointer with 7:14 left in the half. From that point on, however, Williams began forcing the ball into the paint. The Ephs scored 14 straight points at the rim, closing the half on a 17-4 run. Casey added the Ephs final points of the half on a tough pull-up three-pointer in transition, putting the visitors up four.
"We were all very confident in each other because we all know we can shoot," Yearsley said. "We all support each other and in the locker room coach [Shell] was telling us to carry it over. Unfortunately, we didn't."
Demartinis (6-foot-3), Tyler Lord (6-foot-3) and Bird (6-foot-2) were the tallest members of MCLA's front line to see significant action against the Ephs. In the second half, MCLA's big men and members of the backcourt would try to double team Williams' bigs in the post. That led to kick-outs to the opposite wing for 3-pointers, or the Ephs' big men would just finish over their much smaller defender. Williams has just one player on its entire roster under 6-foot-2.
Williams shot the ball at a much higher percentage in the second half. The aggressive play inside earned 10 more trips to the free throw line than the first half and the Ephs shot 15-19 from the stripe.
"Williams hit a lot of shots in the second half that they didn't in the first half," Demartinis said. "They're obviously the No. 3 ranked team in the country, so they're going to hit shots."
Casey scored all nine of his second-half points during a 17-7 scoring run. Bird hit a 3-pointer with 9:02 left, but the Ephs used a 16-0 run to ice the game. Their largest lead was 31 points.
Yearsley led MCLA with 16 points and three rebounds. Tyler McKay had 14 points. Ki-Shawn Monroe had 13 points. Bird had nine points, all 3-pointers, and a team-high seven rebounds.
Despite the lopsided score, MCLA coach Derek Shell said his team can learn from hanging with powerhouse Williams for a half.
"With our size differential against these guys [strong shooting] and pushing the ball up the floor are the best chances we have," he said. "Early on it proved successful. In the heat of the battle, you kind of forget they're the third-ranked team in the country. You're trying to win the basketball game. ... We've got a lot of young guys that are getting a lot of valuable minutes.
"The first semester is all about getting ready for league play. ... We learned some lessons tonight."
Akeem Glaspie can be reached at email@example.com, at @TheAkeemGlaspie on Twitter and 413-496-6252.
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