North Carolina-Wilmington proved a much tougher test for William and Mary Wednesday than its conference record predicted.
The Tribe (14-8, 6-3 CAA) prevailed over the Seahawks (6-18, 0-9 CAA) 54-50 after a tense final minute of play. After freshman guard Omar Prewitt’s three-point attempt clanged off the rim, Seahawks forward Shane Reybold scored on the other end to bring his team within one possession of the Tribe’s lead with just over a minute remaining. A key defensive stop for the Tribe on UNC-W’s next possession forced the Seahawks to send senior guard Brandon Britt to the line. Britt hit one of two to seal the game.
“A gutty road win for our team, there’s no question about it,” head coach Tony Shaver told TribeAthletics. “Not sure either team played great basketball today, but I’m really proud of the fact that we were able to pull out a tough game on the road.”
Although still winless in conference play, the Seahawks proved dangerous in their game against undefeated Delaware, losing by just a single point at Newark, Del.
“I basically told the guys, ‘If I gotta warn you about this game, then we’re in trouble,’” Shaver told TribeAthletics. “They’ve been in every game they’ve played. We’ve lost twice to Delaware. They just should have beaten Delaware on the road a couple nights ago.”
Junior guard Marcus Thornton, the leading scorer in the Colonial Athletic Conference, racked up 19 points on 7-of-12 shooting Wednesday to lead the Tribe’s scoring effort.
“He’s a money player,” Shaver told TribeAthletics. “He made money shots.”
The Tribe grabbed the lead five minutes into the game on a Britt layup that put his team on top 6-4. Although its lead waxed and waned throughout the contest, the Tribe would hold onto the lead the rest of the way. Bolstered by seven fast break points in the first half, the Tribe entered halftime with a 22-17 lead over the Seahawks.
Senior forward Tim Rusthoven converted a layup seconds into the second half to expand his team’s advantage, part of his 10 points in the game. UNC-W narrowed its deficit to just three points with 16:24 remaining. Seahawks forward Cedrick Williams, who finished with a double-double, drained a jumper to put his team within striking distance.
The Tribe’s subsequent 11-0 scoring streak, which was punctuated by a Britt three pointer, put a damper on the Seahawks’ comeback plans. With 10 minutes remaining, the Tribe held a 44-33 advantage, but a 9-2 run put the Seahawks back in contention.
A Prewitt three extended the lead to seven points with 4:25 left on the clock. Two layups put the game within reach for the Seahawks, but missed shots by Williams and guard Tanner Milson in the final minute doomed the comeback effort. The College’s defense held UNC-W to its second lowest point total all season.
The Tribe’s win placed the team within a half a game of Towson for second place in the CAA and one-and-a-half games ahead of Northeastern (8-16, 5-5 CAA) for third place. Saturday the Tribe will head to Boston to face Northeastern and then return to Kaplan to face Towson the following Saturday. Each game will be the Tribe’s first matchup against either team. Tipoff for the College’s tilt against Northeastern is set for 7 p.m.