Don’t look now, but William and Mary is on a roll.
After a season full of near misses, the College reeled off its third straight victory Thursday, withstanding a furious late rally from UNC-Wilmington to escape Wilmington, N.C. with a 63-61 victory.
The Tribe held a comfortable seven point lead with 1 minute, 12 seconds left on the clock after a jumper by senior forward Emily Correal. The Seahawks did not panic, however, and nailed two consecutive three pointers to cut the College lead to just one with 37 seconds remaining.
The College executed the final plays of the game with near perfection to preserve the victory. Senior guard Janine Aldridge and the Tribe offense held onto the ball for the length of the shot clock, winding the clock down to 5 seconds before Aldridge put up a three-point attempt. Senior guard Taylor Hilton corralled the offensive rebound, forcing UNC-W to foul with 1 second on the clock.
Sophomore center MacKenzie Morrison went to the line with a chance to put the College up by three. Morrison missed her first attempt but hit the second, allowing the Tribe to take a two-point lead, effectively icing the contest. The clock then ran out, preserving the 63-61 College victory.
While the College shot just 34 percent from the field on 70 attempts, it benefited from a balanced offensive performance. Hilton led the College with 15 points and nine rebounds. Correal added 12 points and seven assists, while Aldridge finished with 11 points. Four other Tribe players scored at least five points.
As balanced as the Tribe was offensively, the Seahawks had four players in double figures. UNC-W shot 38 percent from the field and 38 percent from three-point range. The Seahawks worked the ball inside against the College, scoring 24 of their points in the paint.
While the College ultimately captured the win, the Seahawks got off to a hot start. The Seahawks were led by forward Karneshia Garrett, who netted 17 points by converting 50 percent of her shots from the field. In addition to Garrett’s contributions, guard Tawanna Lee added 13 points, guard Jessica Freeman scored 12 and guard Dana Brown also netted 11 for the Seahawks.
UNC-Wilmington’s stable of shooters outgunned the College early, racing out to an 11-point lead with 8 minutes, 50 seconds.
From that point forward, the Tribe went on a 9-0 run over the next 2 minutes to cut the Seahawks’ lead to two points. Hilton and Correal both made jumpers and Aldridge sank a three to bring the Tribe within striking distance.
Neither team gained much of an advantage the rest of the first half. The Tribe took a brief four-point lead near the end of the half, but the Seahawks scored five points within the final 45 seconds to take a one-point halftime lead.
The win avenges a Jan. 8 loss to UNC-Wilmington earlier in the year in Williamsburg. The College blew a 14-point second-half lead in that contest, allowing the Seahawks to come roaring back en route to a 61-52 victory.
The UNC-W loss was at the beginning of a painful 11-game losing streak for the College, which it snapped Jan. 24 with its win against Towson. Since then, it’s been positive turnouts for the College, as the squad has notched three straight.
The Tribe will look to keep its newofund winning streak alive Sunday when Colonial Athletic Association front-runner James Madison visits Williamsburg.