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No. 21 Ephs edge out men's basketball, 80-69

LEWISTON, Maine -- Taylor Epley scored 30 points and Michael Mayer added 22 as No. 21 nationally ranked Williams College defeated the Bates College men's basketball team 80-69 on Saturday in Alumni Gymnasium.

Williams (12-1, 2-0 NESCAC) shot 51.0 percent from the field (26/51), 41.7% from three-point distance (10/24) and 78.3% at the free throw line (18/23) in winning its seventh straight game. The Ephs built a 36-27 halftime lead and then elevated their offensive performance in the second period, making 12 of 21 field goal attempts (57.1%), to stay ahead of the Bobcats.

Bates played tough in a losing effort for the second time in as many days against a nationally ranked opponent, following Friday night's 59-56 setback to No. 2 Middlebury. The Bobcats outrebounded the Ephs 38-33, committed only 10 turnovers to Williams' 13 and shot well from beyond the arc at 39.1% overall (9/23), including 46.2% in the second half (6/13).

First-year forward Mike Boornazian (Portland, Conn.) made his second career start and led Bates with 18 points and a career-high 12 rebounds, for his first double-double. Sophomore Graham Safford (Hampden, Maine) added 17 points and a career-high seven assists, while junior Luke Matarazzo (Shelton, Conn.)  and senior Ed Bogdanovich (Portland, Maine) added 13 and 12 points apiece.

Daniel Wohl scored 11 points with a team-high eight rebounds for Williams. James Klemm also netted 11 points, and Nate Robertson doled out five assists.

Both teams relied on their starters: Williams had a 4-0 advantage in points off the bench.

Robertson set up Epley for a layup to break a 13-13 tie and give Williams the lead for good with 14:05 left to play in the first half. A three by Parker McClelland and another by Epley made it 21-15 in Williams' favor, and with 2:44 to go, a three-point play by Mayer gave Williams a 36-24 lead. Bogdanovich found Boornazian for a three with 1:05 to play in the period to trim the deficit to 36-27 at intermission.

Epley finished the first half with 20 points on 8-of-16 shooting, including 4-of-8 behind the arc. Mayer added 11 points on 4-of-6 shooting, combining with Epley to score 31 of Williams' 36 points in the period. Boornazian had 11 points and eight boards at the break for Bates, including 5-of-7 shooting from the field and a thunderous dunk on a drive and dish by Safford.

Mayer scored eight straight points for Williams early in the second half, interrupted only by a Safford three, and Klemm made a three with 15:15 left in the game for a 50-33 Williams lead. A three-point play by Wohl had Williams in front 60-41 with 9:38 to go, before Bates embarked on an 18-5 run to make the game interesting again. Boornazian and Matarazzo both made threes, followed by a three-point play by Bogdanovich. Safford then drained another three, set up Bogdanovich for a layup and finally made another three in answer to a layup by Epley, slicing the advantage to 65-59 with 4:11 left in the game. Wohl then stemmed the bleeding with another three-point play, and after a missed three by Boornazian, Klemm made two foul shots as Williams' lead returned to 11, at 70-59, with 3:09 to go.

Bates continued to push the pace offensively and received layups by senior Mark Brust (Duxbury, Mass.), Boornazian, Safford, and Brust again over the final two minutes. But Williams made 9 of 11 free throws down the stretch to maintain its edge.

Williams next hosts Wesleyan on Friday at 6pm, while Bates plays at Colby at the same time.