Sophomore guard Marcus Thornton’s 19 second-half points weren’t enough for William and Mary to overcome an abysmal first half on offense as the Tribe (8-12, 2-7 CAA) fell to Delaware (10-11, 5-3 CAA) by a score of 66-56 Wednesday night.
Poor shooting from both sides defined the opening of the first half as Delaware led by a mere two points through the first five and a half minutes. But as the period wore on, the Blue Hens found their stroke while the College continued to miss, scoring just four points in almost seven minutes in the middle of the half.
Following a buzzer-beating three from Thornton (his only points of the first period), the first 20 minutes came to a close with the Tribe shooting just 29.6 percent from the field and 2 of 12 from behind the arc as the Blue Hens led 27-19.
“When you go on the road, you have to be really sharp in everything you do; you’ve got to have all your kids playing at a high level…” head coach Tony Shaver said. “But offensively we just were really poor tonight. Other than Marcus, who started going in the second half, we really had very little going in our way.”
Delaware’s Kyle Anderson knocked down a three-ball to open the second while the Tribe continued bricking from all areas, going scoreless through the first 4:26 of the half until junior guard Brandon Britt buried a three-pointer with 15:34 to go. By that time, though, the Blue Hens had built up plenty of cushion, leading 37-22.
Britt, who started at point guard for much of the season but has come off the bench for the last three games, finished with five points on 2 of 4 shooting.
After a jumper from Delaware’s Devon Sadler — who finished with a team-high 19 points — the College’s offense finally came to life, almost exclusively through the shooting of Thornton.
First, he converted a three-point play to make it 39-25, then the sophomore was fouled while hitting a three-ball less than a minute later. After completing the four-point play with the free throw, the Tribe was back in the game, down 39-29 with 13:26 to play. Finally, a fast break layup from Thornton cut the Delaware lead down to seven with 11:23 left.
It was Thornton’s second lopsided performance in three games. Last week at Northeastern, the sophomore who leads the team averaging 18.2 points per game — scored all 23 of his points in the second half. But uneven as it was, Wednesday was the 22nd consecutive game that saw Thornton score in double-figures and the eighth game this year in which he went over 20.
“We got to have him be a little more aggressive the whole game,” Shaver said. “For whatever reason, in the first 20 minutes he wasn’t looking to score [and], he wasn’t aggressive with the basketball, and he was in the second half. And clearly, we can’t have a one-man show, and in the second half we had to call everything for him because nobody else could score the ball tonight.”
Seven was as close as the Tribe would get, though, as the Blue Hens would outscore the College 13-5 over the next 4:36, leaving the Tribe in a 56-39 hole with 6:25 remaining.
Following Thornton was junior center Tim Rusthoven, whose 13 points on 6 of 13 shooting were overshadowed by an abysmal and uncharacteristic 1 of 8 performance from the free throw-line.
The loss — the Tribe’s ninth in 10 games — comes on the heels of its home win over Towson and further highlights its offensive inconsistency, from half to half and game to game. Over its last three contests, the College has shot just 32.9 percent from the floor in the first half and 49.4 percent in the second.
Wednesday night, the second period saw the College improve to shoot a respectable 45.2 percent, but that wasn’t nearly enough to make up for its 19-point showing in the first.
The College will return to Williamsburg to face Hofstra Saturday at noon.