William and Mary fell to UNC-Wilmington 65-67 during the first round of the Colonial Athletic Association, wrapping up the season with an overall record of 8-21, including a 5-11 ledger in conference play.
“We lost the game, I think, on second shots, especially in the second half,” head coach Ed Swanson told CAA.TV. “I thought we forced them into tough situations [but] every time they got that second shot in the last ten minutes they seemed to put it back in. … It was a back breaker and we weren’t able to recover from that.”
The Tribe shot 41.4 percent from the floor, marking seven consecutive games of the team shooting at least 40 percent. Senior forward Kaitlyn Mathieu finished with 19 points while junior point guard Kyla Kerstetter scored 18. The Tribe led the Seahawks in assists, 16-11.
“[Mathieu] has been a coach’s dream in regards to how hard she worked. She was our heart and soul of our basketball program this year,” Swanson told CAA.TV. “It was unfortunate that it had to end tonight.”
The College outshot UNC-W in the first period, leading by a point at halftime, 37-36. Kerstetter earned an early advantage, scoring within the first ten seconds. The Seahawks quickly responded, however, as point guard Naqaiyyah Teague scored on a layup. Thus was the course of the game: for every point the Tribe scored, the Seahawks had an answer.
After Seahawks point guard Kelva Atkins scored a three-pointer that tied the game at 36 apiece, the Tribe took advantage of a free throw to seal the one-point advantage heading into the half. Each team led four times in the first 20 minutes, making for a neck-and-neck first half.
Six minutes into the second half, the Tribe established a six-point advantage. Only a minute later, though, a field goal and two back-to-back three-pointers gave the lead to the Seahawks.
The Seahawks outrebounded the Tribe 46-35. Atkins proved to be the College’s biggest issue, recording 10 rebounds alongside 21 points and five assists.
“Their guards are very athletic and very quick,” Swanson told CAA.TV. “Atkins, I thought, did a terrific job against our pressure … she kind of sliced and diced down the middle … and she put a lot of pressure on our defense and that’s why we sat back in a two-zone for pretty much the entire second half.”
Mathieu, drawing a number of defensive assignments, saw Atkins as the main threat.
“Atkins is a great player,” Mathieu told CAA.TV. “One of the things we tried to work on in practice was keeping her in front. Towards the end I think we were doing a good job but also … she had some good rebounds there and some important rebounds.”
While the teams were tied at 62 with less than three minutes remaining, the Seahawks took advantage of three free throws to gain a small advantage. Seahawks point guard Brie Mobley scored two field goals within the last six seconds of the game. The Tribe ran out of time to respond.
“I thought they played a little bit tougher than us today and that’s one thing heading into the off season that we definitely have to improve,” Swanson told CAA.TV.