Set amongst the rolling hills of beautiful Tazewell County, Va., Bluefield College has an enrollment of 798 students, offers 22 majors, and competes in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics. That’s for context.
Thursday night, the Rams came to Williamsburg and lost 100-57. It was an unusual sight.
William and Mary’s 100-point total, the first time the Tribe (2-1) has passed the century mark in a game since 1998, was indicative of a full-team effort, albeit against a straw-man opponent. Every player on the team’s 13-man roster played for at least ten minutes and scored at least two points.
“[It was a] good win for our guys,” head coach Tony Shaver said. “We basically did what we should have done tonight. We’re a more talented basketball team, but what’s exciting tonight is that we played well.”
The Tribe established the narrative very early on, rolling to a quick 20-5 advantage over the Rams, for whom the game was an exhibition. Sophomore guard Daniel Dixon scored the College’s first seven points, and senior guard Marcus Thornton added the next six. Both finished with 18 points — Thornton’s season-high and Dixon’s career-high. The Tribe’s efficient shooting (51.6 percent) impressed Shaver.
The College’s starting five, compromised of Thornton, Dixon, junior forwards Terry Tarpey and Sean Sheldon, and sophomore guard Omar Prewitt, played less than half of the game with the decision hardly ever in doubt. The real matchup took place after the starting five had blown the roof off the night’s competition.
The College’s six freshmen — guards Jamison Glover, Greg Malinowski, Connor Burchfield and redshirt Michael Schlotman, forwards Oliver Tot and Jack Whitman — all saw their most significant minutes of the year Thursday night against Bluefield’s starters. The two teams played evenly after the College’s starters subbed out, up 66-20 with just over 15 minutes to play.
“It was really nice to get guys like Mike Schlotman, Jack Whitman — guys that are going to be really key players for us this year — onto the floor a little bit tonight,” Shaver said. “Then to be able to get all those young players on the floor is nice. Oliver Tot did some nice things out there. Connor Burchfield showed he can really play the game too.”
Malinowski and Burchfield each scored double digits — 13 and 10, respectively, while Tot contributed five assists and five points. Malinowski impressed especially from beyond the arc, where he hit three of four and could become more of a threat from as the season progresses.
“Greg Malinowski had a really nice ballgame for us,” Shaver said. “He’s a guy that we think that could be in out top seven or eight players. And I thought he played with a lot of confidence tonight and a little more poise on the floor tonight.”
The College’s two walk-ons, Johnson and Glover, each got in on the action in the final 10 minutes, making their Division I college basketball debut. Johnson, who played for the club team for his first three years at the College, hauled down two rebounds and chipped in two points.
Although the win came easy, Shaver focused on improving following his team’s first week of play.
“One week into the season, there’s not anything that I think’s really there right now,” Shaver said. “This team still has to prove that it can be a great offensive team. What I’m excited about is that when we buy into it and do things the right way, we can be pretty good defensively.”
The Tribe travels to Houston, Tx. for a Saturday matchup at Conference USA program Rice. The game will be the Tribe’s fourth in eight days. Tip-off is set for 8 p.m.