Gilmour '20 with 22 points in No. 15 men's hoops loss to Williams

Kena Gilmour '20 scored 20 or more points for the ninth time this season in Saturday's 81-67 loss against Williams (Josh McKee photo).
Kena Gilmour '20 scored 20 or more points for the ninth time this season in Saturday's 81-67 loss against Williams (Josh McKee photo).

Williams College came from behind with a big second half run and the nationally ranked No. 8 Ephs went on to an 81-67 NESCAC win against the 15th-ranked Hamilton College Continentals at Hamilton's Margaret Bundy Scott Field House on Saturday afternoon.

The Continentals (20-3, 7-3 NESCAC) finished in a five-way tie for first place in the conference standings with Williams, Amherst, Middlebury and Wesleyan. Based on a series of head-to-head tiebreakers, Amherst earned the No. 1 seed for the 2018 NESCAC Men's Basketball Championship. Williams will be the second seed, Hamilton is third, Wesleyan is fourth and Middlebury is the No. 5 seed. The Continentals will host either Trinity or Tufts in a NESCAC championship quarterfinal on Saturday, Feb. 17.

Kena Gilmour '20, who scored a career-high 29 points in Friday night's win against Middlebury, paced Hamilton with 22. Michael Grassey '19 narrowly missed a double-double as he finished with 13 points and nine rebounds. Tim Doyle '19 and Andrew Groll '19 added 10 points apiece. The Continentals held a 33-11 advantage in bench points as regular starters Doyle and Grassey came off the bench to make room for the team's three seniors in the starting lineup.

Bobby Casey and James Heskett formed a lethal outside-inside combination for the Ephs (19-5, 7-3). Casey scored 19 of his game-high 31 points in the first half and handed out five assists. He ended up 8 of 14 from the field with seven 3-pointers and went 8-for-11 at the free-throw line. Heskett tallied 17 of his 24 points in the second half and grabbed six boards. He was 8 of 11 from the floor and 7-for-9 at the charity stripe. Williams shot 54.3 percent including 9 of 20 from 3-point range.

The score was tied at 41-41 at the break and there were four lead changes and two more ties in the first seven minutes of the second half. Hamilton took its largest lead of the day of four points at 49-45 with 16:02 left when Grassey found Groll for a layup. Gilmour passed to Groll for another basket in the paint that made it 51-48 with 15:01 remaining.

The Ephs' defense clamped down on the Continentals during the next seven minutes as Williams took the lead for good with a 16-4 run. Casey made the first of two free throws, Heskett converted an old-fashioned 3-point play and knocked down a jumper for a 54-51 edge with 12:09 to go. A Gilmour layup cut Hamilton's deficit back to one but Heskett nailed another jumper to restore the three-point lead. A basket from close range by Grassey made it 56-55 before the Ephs' Henry Feinberg made a layup, was fouled and hit the free throw. Casey pumped in a 3-pointer and another layup by Feinberg gave Williams a 64-55 advantage with 7:59 left.

The Continentals didn't get closer than seven points the rest of the way and the Ephs held them off by going 10-for-14 at the line in the final three minutes. Hamilton shot just 28.6 percent from the floor and committed eight turnovers in the second half.

The score was tied at 7-7 early in the first half when Williams went on an 11-0 spurt and led for much of the rest of the half. Casey started the run with a 3-pointer and Heskett drained a shot from beyond the arc. Matthew Karpowicz made a layup on a feed from Heskett and Casey swished another trifecta for the 18-7 lead with 15:14 remaining.

Hamilton came all the way back to tie the score at 28-28 on a 3-pointer by Joe Pucci '18 with 6:27 to go. The Ephs ran back out to an eight-point cushion at 36-28 just 2:15 later, and they were still up 41-36 after a Karpowicz slam with 1:38 left. Gilmour scored the last five points of the half and drew the Continentals even as the teams went to the locker room. Gilmour is fourth in the NESCAC with 17.4 points per game.

Hamilton honored Pucci, Jack Dwyer '18 and Matthew Moros '18 at halftime as part of its Senior Day recognition ceremony. The Continentals wrap up the regular season with a non-conference game against SUNY Cobleskill at Scott Field House on Tuesday, Feb. 13 at 6 p.m.