After suffering a double-digit road loss to conference rival Virginia Commonwealth earlier in the week, William and Mary (14-5, 6-3 CAA) looked forward to Saturday’s matchup against Old Dominion as a chance to rebound and keep pace in an increasingly tight CAA race.
But at the end of a captivating, back-and-forth matchup between two evenly matched teams, the Tribe dropped its second consecutive conference loss in heartbreaking fashion, as senior guard David Schneider’s game tying 3-point bid rimmed out as time expired, giving Old Dominion (16-5, 8-1 CAA) a razor-thin victory.
The 58-55 decision, in front of a raucous capacity crowd at Kaplan Arena, was played at a frantic, breakneck pace, allowing the game to live up to its considerable expectations. The contest featured 10 lead changes, including four in the final three minutes.
“It was a great college basketball game,” Head Coach Tony Shaver said. “We had a good atmosphere, and it was a well-played ballgame. I don’t think I can ask our guys to compete any harder than we did. It was a tough one to lose, but a great one to be a part of.”
The game featured a clash between Old Dominion’s nationally acclaimed defense and the Tribe’s vaunted Princeton-inspired offense. Although the Tribe held a four point halftime lead, the Monarchs’ intimidating zone defense allowed Old Dominion to pressure the College’s stable of sharpshooters.
“They are so big,” Shaver said. “They are one of the biggest basketball teams I have ever coached against. [With] their size and strength, it is tough to get the ball inside. When we do get inside, they collapse on us, so it was tough. I was disappointed with how we handled their zone tonight, but it is a great zone.”
That zone became even tougher to attack when the College posted its second straight sub-par shooting performance.
“I felt that a lot of the shots in the second half were in and out, and it happens,” senior guard David Schneider said. “It’s just something you have to deal with as a shooter — some are going to go in and some are going to go out.”
The Tribe converted just 33 percent of its shots from the field, including 10 for 30 from behind the arc. Sophomore guard Quinn McDowell led all scorers with 16 points, while Schneider contributed 14 points, including four three-pointers.
Meanwhile, Old Dominion was efficient offensively, utilizing their size advantage to thwart the Tribe’s defensive efforts. The Monarchs shot 42 percent from the field and made 81 percent of their free throws. In the waning minutes, Old Dominion center Gerald Lee proved an invaluable threat inside against the Tribe defense.
“They certainly did pound it inside, and we had a very difficult time stopping them down the stretch inside the last 10 minutes,” Shaver said. “I thought in the first half, we did a great job keeping them off the boards. In the second half, it was so close. Again, it wasn’t a lack of effort.”
Although the College failed to deliver a victory, Tribe players and coaches were impressed with the electric atmosphere at a usually sedate Kaplan Arena. The attendance of 7,261 was the largest crowd since 1993, and the largest ever to witness a CAA contest in Williamsburg.
“Coming in here as a freshman, I set two goals,” Schneider said. “One of them was to sell out Kaplan, and the other was to make the NCAA tournament, so we have one goal left.”
Both teams will now look ahead to their Feb. 3 rematch in Norfolk, a game that will likely contain enormous conference ramifications.
“It was unfortunate that we couldn’t get the win, but stuff like that happens,” Schneider said. “ODU is a great team, and we just have to come out next time and get the win.”