They say all good things must come to an end. But what about no good, rotten awful things, like a nine-game losing streak?
For William and Mary (2-15, 1-6), that streak finally came to an end Sunday at Kaplan Arena, as junior guard Taysha Pye scored 25 points to lead the Tribe to its first conference victory of the season, a 69-57 win over George Mason.
“It feels nice, very nice,” Head Coach Debbie Taylor said. “It was time and it was well deserved. I didn’t think we played great, but we played hard and it was nice to get a win on our home court.”
It did not look like it was going to be a good day for Pye or the Tribe early on, as the Patriots jumped out to a 19-12 lead in the first ten minutes of the first half thanks to the College missing 12 of its first 15 shots from the floor. George Mason held Pye to only four points in the first half and caused the junior to turn the ball over three times.
But Pye responded in the second half, scoring 21 of her 25 total points in the final period while only turning the ball over once.
“I just went out there and played [in the second half],” Pye said. “I just tried to execute the offense. I just took the shots that I had, and they started falling in the second half.”
Sophomore forward Emily Correal finished with 14 points and seven rebounds, while senior guard Katherine DeHenzel scored 10 points thanks to her seven-of-eight shooting from the free throw line.
The College shot 54 percent from the field in the second half, but it was the Tribe’s defense and hustle that helped it get its first conference win of the season.
With 9 minutes, 12 seconds remaining in the second half, Pye overshot Correal on an entry pass to the post on what looked to be another Tribe turnover. But sophomore forward Taylor Hilton leapt out of bounds to throw the ball back in play.
Eventually, Pye would rebound a missed three-pointer by Hilton with the shot clock running down and hit a layup to give the College a 54-41 lead, its largest lead of the game to that point.
“It was huge,” Pye said. “It was definitely a momentum changer. That is the kind of stuff Taylor Hilton does. She’s a good player, she’s athletic, she rebounds. She goes hard, she hustles, she does all the little things.”
The Tribe’s intensity resulted in defensive stops, as it held the Patriots to 40 percent shooting from the field. The College’s defense was most effective in the first half, keeping the Patriots stuck on 19 points for most of the first half as it made its comeback.
Hilton hit a jumper from the top of the key to cut the Patriot’s lead to 21-16 before the College made three consecutive three pointers. Sophomore center Jaclyn McKenna netted wide open jumpers from the top of the arc, and junior point guard Katy Oblinger hit a pull-up three in transition to cut the George Mason lead to 26-25 with 3:21 remaining in the half.
A driving right-handed layup by junior guard Taysha Pye and another jumper from Hilton helped give the College a 30-26 lead heading into the half.
From there, the College never looked back.
“I think the greatest things about our team right now, the thing I’m most proud of is that we had some tough breaks, whether it’s buzzer beaters or injuries,” Taylor said. “But these kids keep going. I think they are confident in the fact that they are getting better with every game and that they are one of the better teams in the league. We just have to put it all together.”