Two impressive runs and solid free throw shooting in the waning minutes propelled William and Mary (1-2) to its first victory of the season Thursday night at Kaplan Arena. Led by senior guard David Schneider, the Tribe overcame a sloppy start and early 19-6 deficit to hand Richmond (2-1) its first loss of the season in a 78-71 effort after.
“The first five minutes were unbelievable for us,” Head Coach Tony Shaver said. “We looked like we had never played the game before, but how we responded to that was the most impressive thing to me.”
Shaver’s squad quickly fell behind 8-0 to a sharp Richmond team fresh off a 100-point performance in its previous game against VMI. Eight minutes into the match-up, as the early deficit grew to 13, it did not look much better for the College.
“It was shocking to us, quite honestly,” Shaver said. “We thought we were so well prepared. We knew what they were going to do … so it’s a difficult thing to see.”
A cold start and too many mental errors by Schneider led to an early benching after according to Shaver. But the senior stayed aggressive, and turned the game around after returning, to lead the Tribe on an 11-0 run to close the half. The College hit three straight three pointers, capped by Schneider’s three with three seconds remaining to give the Tribe a 29-28 halftime advantage, its first lead of the night.
“They are a tough team [and] are really active,” Schneider said. “I think we handled their pressure really well. We were able to get other guys open shots, which I think is really going to help us.”
The College maintained its own pressure to start the second half. After a back-and-forth opening nine minutes, the Tribe turned a 42-40 deficit into a 52-42 lead. Schneider contributed eight points to the burst — two three pointers and a running jump shot in less than a minute.
Richmond would not get within six points the rest of the game, and the College hit 11 of 14 free throws to secure the victory.
“Every victory is good, but this one felt good … because of the way we battled as a team,” senior guard Sean McCurdy said. “We started the game off really slow and it was a collective effort in the comeback.”
McCurdy hit timely shots to finish with 11 points and a game-high four assists. Schneider netted 25 points on 7-18 shooting and 4-10 from beyond the arc.
Neither team demonstrated much of an inside presence on the night, yet the combination of senior center Steven Hess and junior center Marcus Kitts managed to combine for 16 points and 16 rebounds. A similar matchup zone approach utilized by both squads clogged the passing lanes, leading to 53 attempted three pointers on the night.
The College held a 35-32 rebound advantage, while committing one more turnover than the Spiders at 11-10. The Tribe shot 51 percent overall and 45.5 percent from beyond the arc.
The College returns to the court Saturday for a 2 p.m. game at Manhattan.