COLLEGEVILLE, Pa. – Eric Williams Jr. came into Tuesday night's Ursinus College men's basketball game needing 16 points to reach 1,000 for his career. He went above and beyond the necessary number – and the Bears needed every bit of it.
Williams scored a season-high 28 points – on just 11 shots – to help Ursinus hold off a scrappy Haverford squad, 78-69, in the Centennial Conference opener for both sides. The senior captain was 9-of-11 from the field and made seven of his nine 3-point attempts, including a high-arching swish from the right wing on the first possession of the second half to become the 28th player in program history with 1,000 career points.
Williams' efficient outburst was critical for a Bears team that struggled to put away a game Fords side that came in much-improved from last season's 7-18 campaign. He netted 14 points in both halves, helping Ursinus keep the Fords (2-2, 0-1) at bay in the first and assisting in the closeout stages of the second stanza.
Leading by just three at halftime after Haverford closed the first frame on a 16-6 spurt, Williams gave the Bears (3-2, 1-0) a big lift with a triple from the right corner on an inbounds feed from junior Ryan McTamney to make it 35-29. The Fords recovered quickly, trimming the margin to 38-37 at the 15:46 mark.
Sophomore George Gordon provided a massive lift in the second half for Ursinus. After a free throw by junior Shane Stark and a mid-range jumper from Williams, Gordon stretched the advantage to eight with a bucket inside and a pair of free throws before Williams' four-point play made it 49-37 with 11:25 to play.
Haverford refused to go away, getting as close as seven on two separate occasions. Williams' last trey, his seventh of the night, gave Ursinus a 71-60 lead and effectively put the Fords away with exactly two minutes left.
Gordon was terrific off the bench, netting a career-high 13 points while going 4-of-7 from the floor and sinking all but one of his six foul shots; ten of Gordon's markers came in the second half. Stark matched him with 13 points and added eight rebounds and three steals, while McTamney produced 15 points and five boards.
The Bears were stingy on defense in the first half, overturning an early 9-4 deficit with an extended 22-4 run that put them in control. Back-to-back triples by Williams gave Ursinus the lead for good, and freshman Ryan Hughes and junior Jake O'Neil each had a bucket during an 11-0 run that spanned more than six minutes and ended with the home side ahead 26-13.
Haverford quickly came back, cutting it to 26-25 before another 3 by Williams at the 2:33 mark gave the Bears some breathing room.
The Fords outrebounded the Bears, 38-35, but Ursinus attempted 27 free throws to its opponent's 11. The hosts committed only eight turnovers, making it consecutive games with single-digit miscues.
The men's basketball team continues CC play after the Thanksgiving break with a trip to Washington College on Thursday, November 29.