Smith Rallies Hamline For Win Over No. 5 Williams

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Although they were playing nearly 2,000 miles away in California, Zach Smith and the Hamline men's basketball team found a way to warm the hearts of supporters Friday night. The senior guard poured in 31 points as the Pipers rallied past the No. 5 D-III team in the country with a come-from-behind 73-71 win over Williams in Thousand Oaks, California.

Isaac Brooks added 14 points and 12 rebounds with Nick Powell contributing 10 off the bench as the Pipers evened the overall record at 5-5 with their biggest win in years in a game played at Cal Lutheran College. 

The Ephs, who advanced to the D-III semifinals last season, came into the game ranked No. 5 in the country in the latest poll with an 8-1 overall record. They scored the game's first eight points and pushed the lead to nine at 23-14 midway through the first half, In a sign of things to come, HU roared back with nine unanswered points -- five by Powell -- in a 3 1/2 minute span to quickly tie the game. Williams eventually led, 34-29, at halftime. 

Williams upped the margin to 14 at 50-36 with 13:43 remaining when the Pipers started to make their move. HU went on a 14-2 run in a four-minute span to get back within a basket at 52-50. Smith, who finished just one point shy of his career high for a game, hit a jumper to tie the game at 60 with 4:47 left in the second half. The Burnsville, Minn. native then stole the ball and finished off a three-point play to give HU a lead at 63-60. The Ephs fought back to tie the game on three more occasions before Smith gave HU the lead for good at 71-69 with 57 seconds left. Smith then sealed matters with a pair of free throws with 11 seconds left.

The Pipers were excellent from the field (53.8 per cent, 16-24 in the second half alone), the free throw line (10-11 for the game) and, thanks in part to Brooks, finished with a 30-27 rebounding edge. Brooks was not alone in grabbing boards. Seven other Pipers also did so, including Dylan See-Rockers, who snared four and also had two steals. 

The win capped quite a trip for the Pipers, who bested host Cal Lutheran, 66-61, Thursday. Hamline now heads into MIAC play for the rest of the season. The Pipers (1-4 in MIAC games) play at Augsburg (7-2 overall, 3-2 MIAC) on Wednesday, Jan. 3 at 7:00 p.m. Then, HU gets back on the Hutton Arena floor for three games in a five day span. The first of this troika will be the Pipers' first home game in a month against Macalester on Saturday, Jan. 6 at 1:00 p.m. Bethel visits on Monday, Jan. 8 and Carleton finishes off the homestand on Wednesday, Jan. 8. Both those games are 7:00 p.m. tipoffs.