Following a tough loss to Hampton, William and Mary looked forward to Saturday’s matchup with winless Davidson (0-4) as a means for redemption. After struggling early, the Tribe used a furious rally to erase a 23-point deficit and sink the Wildcats by a score of 74-63, improving its record to 2-1.
“We were pretty mentally tough today, and it was a good step for us,” Head Coach Debbie Taylor said. “Tonight, we learned how to fight adversity and keep battling.”
The College was led by impressive performances from its strong group of sophomore guards. Katherine DeHenzel and Taysha Pye both contributed 16 points apiece, while Janine Aldridge led all scorers with 18.
However, midway through the first half, the College’s chances of victory looked bleak, as Davidson went on a 34-11 run to open the game.
The Wildcats scored at will during the early stages of the contest and shot 48.6 percent from the field in the opening half. The Tribe lacked an intense, inside presence, allowing Davidson to scoop up rebounds and convert them into points.
“When we came out, we didn‘t have any defensive intensity,” DeHenzel said. “We weren’t getting on the boards. We knew we could beat this team, but we just had to come out and fight, and we worked hard on defense to get back in the game.”
Despite finding itself in a hole, the Tribe held tough. During one timeout, the College altered its gameplan and abandoned its zone defense in favor of man-to-man coverage.
”Once we got into man-coverage and picked the pressure up a little more, I think [Davidson] struggled a lot more, and we started making shots,” Taylor said. “And then they only scored 9 points in the last 10 minutes of the first half, so I think we just shut them down defensively.”
After the defensive change, the Tribe was a different team, as the College began to assert itself inside the paint and collect rebounds.
Freshman forward Emily Correal also continued her impressive rookie campaign with a game-high 11 rebounds. Freshman center Jaclyn McKenna also contributed eight rebounds and senior forward Tiffany Benson recorded an additional seven.
Sparked by a renewed defense, the College offense took over, as the Tribe outscored the Wildcats 39-20 in the second half. The Tribe leaned on its stable of strong perimeter shooters to pull away from Davidson in the waning minutes. Aldridge drained four three-pointers, and DeHenzel added three.
“We knew we could [come back],” sophomore guard Taysha Pye said. “We knew we weren’t playing our best from the start. The morale was down, but we got it up. We worked as a team, we came together, we knew we could get through it, we just helped each other and stayed positive.”
The Tribe begins an eight-game midwest road trip with a contest against Big Ten foe Iowa on Wednesday.