|Tribe Hangs On For 54-50 CAA Victory|
WILMINGTON, North Carolina – Colonial Athletic Association shooting leader William & Mary shook off a sub-par first half with 60 percent after intermission to break away from UNCW for a 54-50 men’s basketball victory Wednesday night at Trask Coliseum.
The Tribe won for the fourth time in five tries to improve to 14-8 overall and 6-3 in the CAA. The loss extended UNCW’s losing streak to 13 games and left the Seahawks with a 6-18 record in all games and 0-9 in the circuit.
Junior guard Marcus Thornton, first among CAA scorers at 19.8 points per game, paced all players with 19 points. Senior forward Tim Rusthoven added 10 points for W&M, which led by as many as 14 points in the contest.
Senior guard Tanner Milson led the Seahawks in scoring for the first time this season with 11 points. Junior forward Cedrick Williams recorded his fourth career double-double and his first since the Manhattan game on Dec. 15 with 10 points and 11 rebounds.
“We hurt ourselves at the beginning of the game,” said Buzz Peterson, UNCW’s fourth-year coach. “I felt like we should have capitalized early and it should have been 8-2 instead of 4-2. We missed tons of layups tonight.
“W&M is one of the better teams offensively in the league and I felt like we defended well enough to win the ball game. Our kids keep fighting hard in an adverse situation. Our guys competed, but we didn’t capitalize early and we missed way too many layups.”
After struggling offensively in the first half, the Tribe made three of its first five field goals in the second period to grab a 31-23 advantage. Thornton converted a pair of free throws and then drained a long trey from the top of the key to give the Tribe a 31-23 margin.
UNCW, meanwhile, made just three of first 13 field goals after intermission to fall into a hole before rallying to close to 26-23 on a tip-in by Williams with just over 16 minutes left to play.
But the Tribe dialed long distance to reel off 11 unanswered points and gain separation from the Seahawks. Thornton tossed in two free throws and canned a trey, followed by triples from Prewitt and Britt, to push the difference to 37-23 at 13:37.
Milson caught fire late in the second half, scoring 11 points in a three-minute stretch, to keep the Seahawks close and a Shane Reybold hook in the paint with 1:06 left helped the Seahawks climb within one possession, 53-50.
UNCW had a chance to tie the game in the final seconds after Prewitt missed from close range with 34 seconds remaining, but Williams’ attempt in the paint bounced off the rim and Brandon Britt made the front end of a bonus situation with nine seconds left as the Tribe hung on for its seventh road victory in 12 games this season.
“I’m not sure either team played great basketball today, but I’m proud that we were able to pull out a tough game on the road,” said Tony Shaver, W&M’s 11th-year coach. “They changed some defenses on us and we didn’t react well at times early on. It was a very uncharacteristic first half offensively for us. We look confused and dazed. Credit them for that. We were more fluid in the second half.”
UNCW led briefly in the first half, 4-2, before the Tribe got untracked with a six-point spurt, which featured two high-flying dunks by Thornton, the latter with 13:46 left that gave W&M an 8-4 edge.
The Tribe pushed the margin to 13-6 on a Julian Boatner triple at 11:31 and then expanded to 20-13 on a Thornton three-pointer with 6:49 remaining in the opening period.
W&M wound up taking a 22-17 lead into intermission after shooting just 30.8 percent from the floor and making only 3-of-14 from deep. The 22 points matched a season-low by opponents in the first half this season against the Seahawks.
Williams, UNCW’s leading scorer, went scoreless in the opening 20 minutes on just three field goal attempts.
The Seahawks return to the road this weekend with a 7 p.m. tip-off on Saturday at Hofstra. The Tribe travels to Northeastern on Saturday for a 7 p.m. date with the Huskies.
GAME NOTES: The two teams play again on Feb. 17 in Williamsburg, Va…Attendance for UNCW’s 10th home game of the season was 3,030…Williams reached double figures for the 21st time in 24 games…The Tribe had seven turnovers and the Seahawks had only eight miscues…Rusthoven, who averages 5.5 boards, did not have a rebound…Thornton added four assists to his stat line…W&M went 7-of-23 from long distance, while UNCW was 3-of-11…The Seahawks scored 36-of-50 points in the paint…It marked the second straight game the Seahawks have scored 50 points…Milson’s 11 points was his highest total since scoring 12 at UNC Asheville on Dec. 28…Williams pulled down double digit rebounds for the 10th time in his career.