WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. (December 1, 2012) – The Stevens Institute of Technology men's basketball team turned a 10-point halftime deficit into a 75-69 win Saturday afternoon at 24th-ranked Williams College. The Ducks, who are now 5-0, handed the Ephs (5-1) their first loss of the season thanks to a second half that saw the visitors outscore the hosts 45-29.
The Ducks jumped out to a 4-0 edge behind four quick points from junior guard Matt Skrelja (Clark, N.J.), but the Ephs came back quickly to tie and the two teams traded baskets over the next five minutes. Williams pushed a one-point lead with 9:17 left in the first half to an eight-point margin 2:09 later behind triples from junior forward Taylor Epley (Louisville, Ky.) and sophomore Ryan Kilcullen (Hingham, Mass.).
Stevens was able to trim the margin to six (29-23) after a layup from sophomore forward Kenny Gan (Hillsborough, N.J.) with 5:47 left in the first, but Williams responded with a 9-0 spurt over a span of 2:00 to take a 38-23 lead with 2:52 on the clock.
The Ducks were able to close the half on a 7-2 run behind five points from senior guard Sheldon Jones (Queens, N.Y.) to make it a 40-30 game after one period.
Williams pushed its lead to 12 in the opening moments of the second, but Stevens started to claw back, getting the margin down to one with a 13-2 run over just 3:15 of game time. Senior guard Russ Thompson (West Orange, N.J.) started the run with a three-pointer and sophomore forward Patrick Sabatino (Westfield, N.J.) ended it with a layup following an offensive rebound from Jones.
Williams went back up by six with 13:04 left, but the resilient Ducks quickly responded tying the score at 51 with a Jones layup and taking its first lead since the 11:46 mark of the first after a made jump shot from junior guard Andrew Meszaros (Phoenixville, Pa.) with 9:59 remaining.
With the score tied at 57 apiece, Stevens got two at the line from Sabatino, a defensive stop, and a three-pointer from Thompson to open its largest lead of the night, five points (62-57), with 5:18 in the second.
The Ephs cut it to two (64-62) at the 4:20 mark but a put-back from Gan, another key stop and a marvelous twisting layup on the right block from Thompson after another Gan offensive rebound made it 68-62 with just 55 seconds left.
Williams would get within three with 26 seconds left but Stevens – specifically Thompson and Jones – converted seven of its eight attempts at the line over the final 32 ticks to seal its second win over a nationally-ranked team in five games this year.
Stevens shot 52.9 percent (27-for-51) from the field and 5-for-17 (29.4 percent) from three. The Ducks were 16-for-21 (76.2 percent) at the line and ended with a 33-26 margin on the glass led by Gan's seven. Stevens finished with a 34-20 margin in points in the paint as well.
Jones finished with 18 points, five rebounds and two assists as all five Duck starters finished in double figures. Thompson had 16 points, five boards, three helpers and a pair of steals, while Gan finished with 13 points on 5-for-5 shooting, seven rebounds and a two blocks. Skrelja had 12 points, five boards and three assists, with Sabatino tallying 12 points and grabbing four caroms.
Williams shot 43.4 percent for the game, but a suffocating second-half defense from Stevens held the Ephs to just nine made baskets on 29 attempts (31 percent) over the game's final 20 minutes. Williams was 9-for-28 (32.1 percent) from three and 14-for-16 (87.5 percent) at the line. Epley, junior center Michael Mayer (Durham, N.C.) and senior forward Nate Robertson (Ann Arbor, Mich.) all finished in double figures for the Ephs, with Mayer tallying seven rebounds and two steals.
The Ducks will return to action on December 7 when they visit Utica College in their first Empire 8 game of the season. That game is slated for an 8 p.m. start.