WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. -- The Bates men's basketball team finished up its tough opening weekend of NESCAC play with its second loss to a top-seven nationally ranked team in as many days, falling 67-47 at No. 7 Williams on Saturday.
Williams rebounded from Friday night's defeat to Tufts, holding the Bobcats to 16 second-half points on 21 percent shooting after entering the break behind the visitors, 31-29.
The Bobcats fell to 6-6 overall and 0-2 in conference play, while the Ephs improved to 12-2 on the season and 1-1 in the NESCAC.
Williams was led offensively by Nate Robertson and James Klemm, who scored 12 points apiece. Michael Mayer came off the bench to join the pair in double-digits with 11 points of his own. Robertson also had two steals and two blocks for the Ephs.
For the second game in a row, Bates senior Will Furbush (South Portland, Maine) led the Bobcats in scoring, with 12 points. Furbush entered the weekend with a career-high of eight points in a game, but poured in 23 during Friday night's loss at No. 1 Middlebury. Bates sophomore point guard Luke Matarazzo (Shelton, Conn.) scored 10 points for the visitors and pulled down a game-high six rebounds.
The Bobcats opened the game on an 8-3 run behind two jumpers from Matarazzo, but the Ephs quickly tied the game 8-8 with 13:40 to play in the half on a hook shot from Mayer on the left book. Bates was able to take another five-point lead, 15-10, on a three from Furbush with 9:40 remaining in the half, but five straight points from Mayer over the following two minutes again tied the game, 15-15.
The Ephs took their first lead of the half, 20-19, on a three from Klemm with 5:05 to play in the half. However the Ephs could not take full advantage of the momentum –- although they led by as many as five, Bates retook the lead, 29-28, on another Furbush three with 1:06 to play in the half. The Bobcats ultimately entered the break up 31-29.
Bates' defense was largely able to keep Williams in check in the first 20 minutes, holding the home team to 41 percent shooting (11-27) and 1-of-12 shooting from behind the arc. The visitors shot 48 percent in the half (12-of-25), led by Matarazzo, who had 10 points headed into the break. Mayer led the way for the Ephs with nine points on 3-3 shooting from both the field and the foul line.
Williams began to hit from behind the arc at the start of the second half; although the teams traded baskets, the Ephs hit threes rather than twos, leading to a 37-35 lead 2:30 into the half to prompt a Bates timeout. The Ephs then held the Bobcats scoreless until the 12:08 mark, when a jumper from first-year Graham Safford (Hampden, Maine) made the score 41-37. Williams then went on a 6-0 mini-run to take a 47-37 lead and force another Bates timeout, as Brian Emerson hit four free throws and Taylor Epley made a layup with 10:31 to play.
The Bobcats were still unable to find their offensive groove after the timeout, and the Ephs were able to extend their lead slowly, highlighted by a pullup three from Rooke-Ley in the left corner at the 8:01 mark that made the score 52-37. Bates continued to battle, but it was not enough: the Bobcats were able to score 10 points in the final six minutes, but the Ephs still extended their lead, and walked off the floor with a 67-47 victory.