William and Mary dropped its second straight game Friday evening, falling to East Carolina, 69-57, in Greenville, N.C. The Tribe (0-2) trailed by just a single point at halftime but fell behind early in the second half and could not catch up.
“I thought their defense wore us down a little bit,” head coach Ed Swanson told Tribe Athletics. “When you’re not scoring the basketball consistently, sometimes it takes away your edge on defense.”
Senior forward Kaitlyn Matheiu led the Tribe with 13 points and six rebounds while shooting 43 percent from the field. Freshman guard Marlena Tremba came off the bench to add 13 points, three rebounds and three assists to help keep the game competitive. The College, however, was unable to keep pace with the Pirates as the second half progressed.
The Pirates jumped to a 6-1 lead in the opening minutes, holding the Tribe without a field goal in the first five minutes of the game. But junior forward Jazmen Boone and freshman guard Alexandra Masaquel each notched two lay-ups to close the gap and tie the game at 11-11 with 12 minutes left until halftime.
The teams matched scores for the remainder of the half, with the Pirates’ lead never exceeding four points. However, by the end of the first half, the Tribe proved unable to take the lead.
The Tribe registered 20 points in the paint in the first half and held East Carolina to 38 percent shooting from the field and just five free throws.
The game shifted against the Tribe shortly after halftime, however, as the Pirates opened the second half with an 8-0 run to extend their lead to 40-31. The College fell behind further as its shooting betrayed it; the Tribe missed 9 of 11 shots in the first six minutes of the second half as the team fell behind 47-35. Through the second half, the Tribe stopped getting into the paint almost entirely and mustered just four free throws.
The College simply could not challenge East Carolina once the deficit swelled to double digits. The Pirates led by as many as 19 in the second half and did not let the Tribe within 10 points of them in the final 14 minutes of game play. In the second half, the Tribe scored just eight points in the paint, three second-chance points and zero fast break points. The College shot a feeble 14 percent from beyond the arc and 58 percent on free throws. The Tribe was also out-rebounded 49-31.
To the Tribe’s credit, the defense largely kept the Pirates away from the basket, surrendering just 26 points in the paint and forcing the hosts to rely on threes and long jumpers. However, the Pirates hit 7 of 17 threes, a crucial factor in the team’s strong second half. The Pirates also capitalized on 16 of 18 free throws, another crucial advantage.
The loss keeps the Tribe in search of an elusive first win. The squad has played decent defense out of the gate, but the offense still needs to find an identity. It is still early in head coach Ed Swanson’s tenure, so a period of adjustment is expected. Swanson took several positives from his team’s development.
“I’m really happy where our defense [was]…against a very explosive team in East Carolina,” Swanson remarked. “We just have to settle down and offensively just trust a little bit better, and that will come in time.”
The Tribe will return to action against High Point Tuesday night at Kaplan Arena. The home opener will tip off at 7 p.m.