Men’s Basketball: So close, so far

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January 27, 2011

11:06 PM

It has become repetitive.

William and Mary (6-15, 2-8 CAA) lost another game in the final minute Wednesday night, this time to Delaware, by a final score of 59-55.

The College did some things very well against the Blue Hens. In other areas, they appeared inconsistent and streaky, which the box score indicated.

Defensively, they shut down one of Delaware’s biggest threats in guard Jawan Carter, holding him to 2-from-9 from the floor with two assists and two rebounds in 35 minutes. Guard Devon Saddler picked up the slack for Carter, shooting 8-for-12 with six rebounds and two assists.

As a team, Delaware was held to a miserable 22.2 percent from beyond the arc and scored only 19 points in the first half. Although they are a considerably smaller team, the Tribe held the Hens to only seven offensive rebounds in the first half and forced six turnovers.

Those stats would be remarkable if the Tribe hadn’t also put up miserable numbers from the perimeter. For the second straight game, the College shot 16.7 percent from beyond the arc. For a team that lives and dies by its perimeter offense, that isn’t enough.

Junior forwards JohnMark Ludwick and Quinn McDowell, whom Head Coach Tony Shaver called the best shooters on the team, went 1-for-11 from downtown.

“We just missed open shots, we just have nights like that sometimes,” freshman guard Julian Boatner said. “Sometimes we play great offense, sometimes we play great defense. We’ve just got to put it together.”
Even without its three-point shooters, the Tribe managed to make the game a nailbiter entering the final minute.

It was still a one-possession game when the ball was knocked out of bounds on an inbound pass from Delaware with only seconds left on the shot clock. The officials did not have a good view of the play, and declared a jump ball, and the arrow gave possession to Delaware.

The play occurred directly in front of Shaver, who became visibly upset at the call.

“I think I probably had the best look, it honestly happened right in front of me,” Shaver said. “There’s nothing I can do about it. [The officials] did their best, and just didn’t get a good luck at it. They did the right thing from there, it’s not something you can check the monitor on I’ve been told.”

It proved to be the difference in the game. Delaware sunk almost all of its free throws in the final minute of the game as the Tribe tried to extend their possessions. Despite a pair of athletic drives to the basket from freshman guard Brandon Britt, the Tribe fell just short.

Britt and Boatner started the game, with sophomore Matt Rum and junior Kendrix Brown subbing in at the one and two spots when the Tribe needed to bolster its size defensively. As was the case in Saturday’s match-up against Hofstra, the College’s guards carried the team for long stretches of Wednesday night’s game.

“It’s a great feeling to be able to start, to be that spark plug,” Boatner said.

Although his stat line may not reflect it, Ludwick played with a lot of hustle in the first half, coming down with three aggressive offensive rebounds during one Tribe possession, capped by a ferocious dunk from senior center Marcus Kitts.

Ludwick did not start against Delaware. Shaver said he believes his hustle during the game may be due to feeling threatened about his playing time.

Freshman forward Fred Heldring also played well in limited minutes, with four points and a block in 11 minutes. Heldring played a role typically filled by freshman Tim Rusthoven, who suffered a shoulder injury and is expected to be out for two weeks.

One area where the Tribe did improve was in the paint – picking up 38 points. Kitts had a strong effort, accounting for 12 points and five rebounds on a night when the Tribe couldn’t buy a bucket.

“If we can continue to be confident and shoot the ball well, I think we’ll do well,” Kitts said. “We’ve let a lot of threes slip.”

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