It has become the same story whenever William and Mary faces Old Dominion. More often than not, the Tribe shows flashes of brilliance, but ultimately falls victim to the size, experience and athleticism of the Monarchs.
Saturday’s matchup at the Ted Constant Center in Norfolk, Va. was no different, as Old Dominion delivered the College a 77-58 shellacking to conclude the regular season. The Monarchs used their size and athleticism to effectively manhandle a younger squad, out-rebounding the Tribe by a 47-15 margin.
The Tribe finishes the regular season with a 9-21 overall record, and a 4-14 conference mark. As a result, the College will be the No. 11 seed in next weekend’s CAA Tournament in Richmond, Va.
“I’m really proud of our team,” Head Coach Tony Shaver said. “I thought we competed like champions today. I thought we got really tired in the last six or seven minutes of that ballgame and ran out of juice, but we competed like champions today, and that was really important to me as a coach, to see that competitive spirit.”
The College showed flashes of brilliance, but it ultimately was not enough to overcome Old Dominion’s size. Like it has done so many times over the course of the year, the Tribe was close at several points, but could not capitalize. The Tribe cut the ODU lead to four points twice — once in the first half and once in the second half —but a pair of Monarch scoring runs put the game out of reach.
“We cut it to four halfway through the second half,” Shaver said. “Brandon missed the second end of a one-in-one, which would have cut it to three, and they came down and we fouled Hassell, and he missed two free throws and they called us for a foul on the rebound, and then Finney made two. That was a big sequence in that ballgame.”
Old Dominion’s size and experience clearly dominated the younger, smaller Tribe. ODU often attempted to connect on its perimeter shooting in the first half, and although they only made five three-pointers in the first half, ODU center Frank Hassell was there to clean up the Monarch misses and convert them into points.
Hassell was a dominant force in the game, and he simply outmuscled senior center Marcus Kitts and freshman forward Tim Rusthoven. Hassell accounted for 15 of the Monarchs’s 24 points in the paint in the first half. He finished with 18 points and 12 rebounds on a 6 for 9 shooting night.
“It all starts in the post with Frank Hassell,” Shaver said. “We don’t have anyone who can guard him one-on-one, and because of that, it creates open people in other spots … He’s a great player. I don’t know if he will win the MVP of this league, but he ought to get some votes.”
Defensively, the College allowed Old Dominion — not a traditionally high scoring team — to shoot 52.9 percent from the field, and 40 percent from downtown. The Monarchs’ offensive efficiency, combined with a shutdown defense created a deadly formula that the College could not overcome.
“We are not as good defensively as we need to be,” Shaver said. “What we do in our defensive approach is unusual and a little confusing. When we are good at it, we confuse our opponents. Right now, I think we are confusing ourselves a little bit. A lot of that is youth, we don’t always make the right rotations.”
Offensively, the Tribe struggled against the Old Dominion zone. The Tribe, a squad built on its shooting ability, not its size, entered the contest seeking to convert enough three-pointers to cause ODU to switch out of its zone defense.
More often than not, however, the College failed to convert on their open looks, resulting in a 33 percent three-point shooting performance.
“The goal going in was to shoot them out of the zone,” freshman guard Julian Boatner said. “We got open shots, we were passing the ball around the zone and trying to work them, and get in the gaps and fire away.”
Freshman guard Julian Boatner starred for the Tribe offensively, accounting for six of the squad’s 12 three point field goals. Boatner entered the contest just two behind Jimmy Apple’s record for three pointers by a freshman, which has stood since 1988.
With 8 minutes, 30 seconds left in the first half, Boanter nailed a deep three from the corner to net his record setting 52nd three-pointer of the year. He finished with 18 points and was the Tribe’s leading scorer.
With the regular season now over, the College will look to make a run in next weekend’s CAA Tournament in Richmond, Va. The Tribe will open its tournament schedule against James Madison Friday at 8:30 pm. While the Tribe has struggled this season, it is still eyeing a deep tournament run.
“The season is not over,” McDowell said. “One thing our coaches have harped on is how much better we have gotten than we were a couple of weeks ago. One of the positive traits of this team is that we have kept getting better despite some pretty tough times.”