William and Mary seemed so close to completing a brilliant rally against visiting Richmond. Instead, the College was held to a single basket in the final eight minutes and left Kaplan Arena with a disappointing 71-60 defeat Wednesday.
The Tribe seemed unable to compete with the Spiders for most of the game, falling behind 46-32 before using a 23-4 run to thrill the home crowd with a 55-50 lead in the second half. Ultimately, however, Richmond held on to the tail end of the game.
“Tonight we were very clearly inconsistent from five minutes to five minutes. To be a really high-level team, we have to play every possession like it’s the only possession of the game,” head coach Tony Shaver said. “And we haven’t learned that lesson yet.”
Junior guard Marcus Thornton scored 26 points and hit six three pointers to lead the Tribe. Freshman forward Omar Prewitt added 10 points off the bench, while senior center Tim Rusthoven was held to just two points and four rebounds.
The Tribe struggled throughout the first half. After an early 7-4 lead, fueled with three pointers from Thornton and senior guard Julian Boatner, the Spiders took control of the game. Richmond held the College to just one field goal over a six-minute stretch that saw the Spiders build a 20-14 lead.
The Tribe rallied back, as a long three from Thornton sparked the College offense. A 12-6 Tribe run in the middle of the first half tied the game at 26-26. Richmond responded sharply, using a high-pressure defense to hold the College without a made shot for the final eight minutes of the half. Richmond built a 36-30 lead entering the break.
After the intermission, a blazing 10-0 run to pushed the Spiders’ lead to 46-32.
When all seemed lost, the College found a spark. Prewitt hit a three from the corner to fire the offense. Then, Thornton took over the game.
Thornton scored 13 straight points, hitting all five of his shots in a four-minute stretch. Boatner’s open three pointer, set up by Thornton, gave the Tribe a 51-50 lead to complete the stunning comeback. The Tribe finished off a 23-4 run to take a 55-50 lead and regain control of the game.
“We were getting stops defensively, we started clicking a little bit on offense and got better shots … and we weren’t turning the ball over,” Thornton said. “Those two things combined were the key to that stretch.”
The momentum didn’t last, as the Tribe fell apart and the Spiders took over. Richmond guard Kendall Anthony erased the Tribe lead with two straight triples, and Richmond went on a 19-2 run to seize a 69-57 lead, finishing off the College.
During the seven-minute stretch, the Tribe did not score a single field goal and deteriorated defensively. Even though Thornton hit his sixth three pointer of the night, breaking the drought and pulling the College within nine points, Richmond cruised through the final minute to claim a 71-60 victory.
The Tribe hit 46 percent of its three pointers and 76 percent of its free throws but was otherwise stagnant on offense. Outside the 23-4 run, the College struggled to keep pace with the Spiders, committing 18 turnovers. Richmond shot 50 percent from the field, scoring 32 points in the paint and 24 points off turnovers.
The Tribe travels to South Carolina to take on Wofford Saturday. Tip-off is set for 2 p.m.