The Ursinus College Men’s Basketball Team began conference play with a 78-69 win over Haverford at home on Tuesday, November 20. It was an ideal way to start their conference season, and the win included the exclamation point of a major career accomplishment by senior guard Eric Williams, Jr.
Going into Tuesday’s game, Williams needed just 16 more points to achieve the milestone of scoring 1,000 points in his four-year Ursinus career. Even though he shows nothing but composure on the court, Williams admitted to having some major pre-game nerves.
“I was really nervous going into the game. I had nervous jitters all day…I literally felt a pit in my stomach. I knew I only needed 16 more points to reach 1,000 and that I would have a bunch of family and friends there at the game,” Williams said.
However, as it got closer to tip-off time, Williams was able to rid himself of his nerves. “Right before the game, during the anthem, I was able to close my eyes and focus in and just worry about getting the win,” said Williams.
He certainly was focused. Williams ended the first half with 14 points and with his first shot attempt of the second half, a three-pointer from the right corner, he became a part of the 1,000 point club. He went on to score 28 points, shooting 7-9 (77.8 percent) from beyond the three-point arc and 9-11 (81.2 percent) overall. His pregame nerves proved to have no effect on his fabulous shooting performance.
This was a moment Williams had been working toward for years. “It started to become a goal during my sophomore year when I realized that it was something that could realistically happen in the future” said Williams.
Since then, he has shown elite scoring ability. Through his first three years as a Bear, Williams has shot 42.3 percent from three point land. And is now shooting a whopping 48.9 percent from three to start out the 2018 season (through Nov. 29).
When he was a freshman, Williams was lucky enough to play with a fellow 1,000 point-scorer, Malik Draper, a senior at the time. “Malik was a great player! He taught me just to keep on shooting and continue to perfect my craft. [He] taught me to have the utmost confidence in myself” Williams said.
Although a satisfying achievement for Williams, scoring 1,000 points is not the only part of his plans for this season.
“Of course I wanted to be a thousand point scorer and have a legacy to leave behind in the gym, but I’m concerned about winning a championship. Scoring 1,000 [points] would be so much cooler if we can win the conference this year!” said Williams, who is confident that the Bears can, indeed, win the Centennial Conference this year.
Williams said, “I feel very confident in our abilities as a team. We still have some things we need to work on but overall I think that we are ready to compete at a high level this year and follow up right where we fell off last year.”
The Bears have had multiple players seeing significant playing time so far this season, who hadn’t seen so much in the past. “Having these different guys on the floor has been a huge asset for the team. Jake [O’Neil], Luke [Olshevski], George [Gordon], and freshman Ryan Hughes have really found their [roles] as key contributors to the game. Everyone on the team realizes that they have a huge role on the team whether they play 35 minutes or zero minutes. They bring the same amount of energy and I think having a team that is all-in is incredible,” Williams said.
Williams and his fellow senior teammates, Zack Muredda and captain Matt Williams, hope to lead the Bears to their first conference championship since 2008.
The Bears faced Dickinson on Saturday, Dec. 1, losing an exciting game to the Red Devils by the score of 87-82 in a rematch of the first round of last season’s Centennial Conference playoffs.
Ursinus was down by double digits with less than four and a half minutes remaining in the game, but they surged back from an 81-69 deficit to tie the game at 81 with 1:09 left in regulation.
First-year player Ryan Hughes had a pair of opportunities to tie the game when he missed a free throw with 31 seconds left and narrowly missed an open three pointer with four seconds remaining, allowing Dickinson to ultimately pull away and win the game.
The Bears were led by junior forward Ryan McTamney’s 27 points and a near-double-double by junior Shane Stark, who notched 13 points and 7 rebounds. Stark also was impressive from the free throw line, shooting 5-6 from the charity stripe.
Ursinus will play two more conference matchups before the end of the fall semester. They will be tested when they travel to Daytona Beach, Fla. over winter break, facing #3 Hamilton in the Land of Magic Classic.
Additional reporting by David Mendelsohn