Williams gives Northeast its first title

SALEM — Williams (31-1) led for only 18 seconds of the second half, but it was enough for a national title as the Ephs rallied for a 67-65 win over Gustavus Adolphus (26-7).

Tim Folan’s pair of free throws with two seconds remaining provided the Ephs with the game-winning points. Folan, a senior forward, sealed the victory by intercepting the Golden Gusties’ long inbounds pass.

"I was not nervous at all," said Folan. "I've been there before and sometimes I've cost this team by missing the shots."

"To be nervous, he'd have to have a conscience," said head coach Dave Paulsen.

Gustavus Adolphus led 63-55 with 3:16 remaining when Williams began their decisive comeback. Folan scored four consecutive points to pull the Ephs within 63-60.

Benjamin Coffin, the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player, shaved the margin to a pair with a free throw at the 1:28 mark. Williams took their first lead of the second half at 64-63 when Folan drained a 3-pointer with 0:48 remaining.

The Gusties reclaimed the lead at 0:32 on Derek Nelson’s inside bucket. Williams held for a final shot when Coffin was fouled with four seconds left. Coffin made the first free throw and missed the second shot to set up Folan’s heroics.

"The ball came off long," said Folan. "I just went after it and I saw a couple of their guys coming after me. They fouled me and we got a lucky break."

Gustavus Adolphus’ Tim Brown led all scorers in the game with 19 points and was called for the late foul.

"I didn't even know it was called on me, to be honest," said Brown. "It is kind of a tough situation. With that little time left and the score tied, you would like to see (the officials) let us play a little bit, but unfortunately, it went the other way."

Doug Espenson added 13 points and 10 rebounds for the Gusties.

Folan’s 15 points topped the Ephs’ scoring column. Coffin chipped in with 11 points and a team-high 8 rebounds.

The Ephs, winners of 17 straight contests, were guilty of only four turnovers. Gustavus Adolphus committed 17 turnovers.

Williams point guard Michael Crotty dished out 12 assists, while only committing a pair of turnovers. Crotty, an all-tournament selection, was responsible for 22 assists in the two Williams victories in Salem.

Both teams were making their first championship game appearances. Williams’ 31 victories establishes a school record.

"We probably led for eight seconds the entire weekend," said Paulsen. "We shot 37% and we let them shoot 55%. We are the national champs? You figure it out."

The all-tournament squad consisted of Crotty, Coffin, Espensen, Bryan Nelson (Wooster), and Jeff Monroe (Hampden-Sydney).