UNC-Wilmington 91, William and Mary 81
After defeating CAA front-runner James Madison earlier in the week, William and Mary (7-17, 3-10 CAA) entered Saturday’s game against North Carolina-Wilmington with a renewed sense of confidence. If the Tribe could slide past the Seahawks, it would gain ground in the conference and further its quest for good positioning in next month’s CAA Tournament.
The Tribe shot 71 percent from the floor in the first half, but it still was not enough, as UNC-Wilmington guard Trevor Deloach dropped 28 points and forward Keith Rendleman added 22 to hand the College a 91-81 defeat at Trask Coliseum in Wilmington, N.C.
“Wilmington just had a good offensive display,” Head Coach Tony Shaver said. “They were just incredible offensively. They hit a lot of difficult shots on us, and we would like to think that we can be better defensively and not give up that kind of point total. Offensively, we were very efficient tonight. We scored the ball, and had a lot of balance, but we just weren’t good enough defensively on the road to win.”
Despite the loss, the College shot the ball well. Four players had double-digit scoring nights, including junior forward Quinn McDowell and freshman guard Brandon Britt, who provided 18 and 15 points respectively. Senior center Marcus Kitts added 12 while freshman guard Julian Boatner scored 11.
The Tribe shot well at the beginning of the game, but cooled considerably in the second half. The squad finished with a 50.8 percentage from the field, and a respectable 41.2 percent from beyond the arc.
As well as the College shot, UNC-Wilmington shot better. The Seahawks, led by Deloach and Rendleman, converted 50.8 percent of their field goal attempts, and nailed 38.9 percent of its shots from downtown.
“They just killed us,” Britt said. “They scored 91 points on us, and we just didn’t play any defense at all. It’s tough, because when we played JMU, we played such good defense against them, and then we come down here and [UNC-W] just scored at will.”
The Tribe started the game off quickly, and had the lead for the majority of the first half. The Seahawks, however, never allowed the College lead to swell by more than 5, and eventually overpowered the Tribe defense and carried a 49-45 lead into the half.
The Seahawks came thundering out of the intermission, as an early scoring flurry caused the Tribe to fall down by as many 14 points for the majority of the second half.
With 8 minutes, 23 seconds left in the contest, however, the Tribe began to mount a comeback. Junior guard Kendrix Brown pried the ball away from his UNC-W counterpart, and dished the ball to Britt, who knocked down a big three-pointer, which gave the Tribe a renewed sense of life.
From there, the Tribe went on a 13-4 run to cut the deficit to 75-70 with just five minutes to go, and it looked like it would have a chance to leave Wilmington with a thrilling comeback victory.
“This team showed some great toughness and heart to come back and battle like [it] did,” Shaver said. “These guys cut it to five points, and we had a stop and a rebound and a turnover that could have been a dunk that could have changed the ball game.”
UNC-Wilmington guard Chad Tomko had other ideas, and scored five quick points — a layup and a long three — to expand the Seahawks’ lead back to 10, effectively halting the Tribe’s momentum and sealing the UNC-W victory. In addition to Tomko’s clutch scoring, Kitts had a costly turnover, as lost the ball as he was about to go up for an uncontested dunk.
“We had a great effort to get it back to a manageable number, but we just couldn’t hit the big shots to put us over the top,” McDowell said. “That was frustrating.”
With a great offensive performance accompanied by a shaky defensive effort, the College once again showed inconsistency — the mark of a young team. From here, the Tribe can only hope that as the season progresses, it will learn how to turn potential into success heading into the CAA tournament.
“We know we have potential; we have talent, but that doesn’t do you any good until you put it together game after game,” McDowell said. “We are still searching for that, and hopefully we will get it here soon because we don’t have too much time left.”