William and Mary 84, Radford 52
Sometimes, there’s just no justice in this world. William and Mary Head Coach Tony Shaver said as much after last Tuesday’s last-second loss at Hofstra.
But karma’s pendulum finally swung the Tribe’s way Saturday, as the squad picked up a win at home over Radford 84-52 in the ESPN BracketBusters Tournament. It was the first Backet Buster win in Tribe history.
“It feels great to win for these guys,” Shaver said. “Happy locker room, a lot of smiles. I think it shows how much our club has improved. We had such a brutal week on the road — five days on the road, two incredibly heartbreaking losses — and to come back home and play this well really shows you the growth of this basketball team.”
Five members of the Tribe posted double figures, including junior forward Quinn McDowell, who sported a double-double with 13 points and 10 rebounds. The squad shot 52.5 percent on the night and 40.9 percent from downtown.
Sophomore guard Matt Rum led the team, coming off the bench with 16 points, two assists and two rebounds. Freshman guards Julian Boatner and Brandon Britt continued their string of strong performances. Boatner shot 4-for-5 from beyond the arc and Britt added 10 points with five assists.
“It’s nice to win,” Rum said. “I think we did a good job getting it into the gaps, getting it into the zone, and going from there. [Senior center Marcus] Kitts did a great job kicking it out when they doubled him up.”
Kitts pitched in with nine points, going 4-for-5 from the field with nine rebounds and four blocks.
The Tribe’s efficient offense was complemented by a strong defensive effort. The College held Radford to 20 points in the first half on 26.5 percent shooting from the field and 9.1 percent shooting from beyond the arc. Although the Highlanders would pick up some momentum in the second half, their shooting remained decidedly off, and they finished the night with 30.9 percent shooting.
“I think we’re at our best when we come out with energy on defense, which is something we’ve improved on throughout the year,” Kitts said.
Junior guard Kendrix Brown led the defensive effort, picking up nine rebounds and two steals. Brown began the year as a starter, but has transitioned well into a defensive stopper as Britt and Boatner have developed into an offensively minded backcourt.
“Ken Brown is really back to his old self. I mean, he’s really played well the last three or four games,” Shaver said. “He really orchestrates our defense when he’s on the floor. We are so much better defensively when he’s out there.”
Shaver echoed similar sentiments on Rum’s performance, saying that the sophomore’s breakout performance against Radford needs to continue for the College to have success in the future.
“This is really how we envisioned Matt Rum playing all year long,” he said. “He needs to play at this level for us to be a good basketball team.”
The Tribe picked up momentum early, kicking off the game with a 12-2 run and holding the lead for the remainder of the game. An early run by Radford brought the score to 12-9, but the Tribe responded with its own 10-0 run.
After that, it was never close.
“This is a big win,” Kitts said. “It’s a step in the right direction to give this group a lot of confidence going into these last two games, and then into the conference tournament.”