In a matchup between the Colonial Athletic Association’s first-place team and its last-place team, conformity won the day.
William and Mary (5-15, 2-6 CAA) lost to James Madison (17-4, 7-0 CAA) Tuesday night at Kaplan Arena 72-48.
While the final score does not sit well, context helps explain its imbalance. On average, the Dukes have outscored their opponents by 18 points so far this season.
For conference games, the scoring differential becomes even more glaring at 26.7 points. The Tribe’s 24-point loss represents the second closest any CAA team has come to beating the Dukes this season.
Although the Tribe came in with added confidence following two consecutive home wins, the Dukes rocketed out to a 9-0 lead off three straight three-pointers.
“Even though they haven’t been ranked yet, they’re one of the top 25 teams in the country,” head coach Ed Swanson said. “I thought they came out and kind of shocked us, hitting the three threes, but I was happy to see the fight with us coming back in the first half.”
The Tribe would buckle down and force a tie at 12-12 with 13 minutes left in the first half.
Last week’s CAA Rookie of the Week freshman guard Marlena Tremba scored 10 of her team’s first 12 points en route to a 16-point scoring performance — her fifth straight in double-digits.
“I’m getting more confident and used to the offense,” Tremba said. “Just in general, we’re moving the ball better, and I think everyone’s getting better shots.”
After the Dukes guard Precious Hall hit a three-pointer to break the 16-16 tie with 10:52 remaining in the first half, the Tribe would trail the rest of the game.
Rampant Tribe turnovers made for easy scores as the Dukes surged through a 12-0 scoring streak to head into the break up 35-19.
The Tribe and the Dukes alternated during the early minutes of the second half, trading buckets without denting the deficit.
Junior guard Anna Kestler put her team within 13 points with 9:55 remaining; however, any comeback hopes the Tribe had were dashed as Dukes guard Kirby Buckholder hit a three-pointer on the other end.
After competing through the whole contest, the Tribe couldn’t contain the Dukes’ athletic and shooting ability. Repeated success from beyond the arc allowed the Dukes to dismantle the College’s 3-2 defense.
The Tribe missed its final six shots as it fell further and further from contention.
“It’s a learning process for when things are going really bad for us to make that key play, the big stop, the big shot, to kind of turn the tide,” Swanson said.
Four of the Tribe’s starters, including junior guard Jazmen Boone — who played 38 minutes — racked up over 30 minutes. Tuesday night’s contest was the Tribe’s second game in three days, and the fatigue showed.
Senior forward Kaitlyn Mathieu scored eight points Tuesday, her lowest total in seven games.
“[Kaitlyn’s] getting about 38 minutes a game, and we’re asking her to do a lot. We’re asking her to be our best defensive rebounder, we’re asking her to guard their best player inside, and be a leader and everything,” Swanson said.
“And I think she’s doing all that. Kaitlyn got a few good touches inside, but didn’t make some shots she would typically make.”
With Tuesday’s defeat the Tribe dropped to 2-6 in conference, tied for last in the CAA with Northeastern and North Carolina-Wilmington.
The College travels to Hofstra (7-17, 3-6 CAA), winners of four straight decisions, Sunday. Tipoff is set for 2 p.m.