Thursday night, William and Mary overcame foul trouble, injury and youth to push Illinois-Chicago into overtime, but eventually fell 100-95. The Flames (1-3) controlled the pace of the game through the second half and into the extra period, claiming their first win of the season over the Tribe (1-2).
The College ran out to a quick lead, but for the second time in three games this season, junior forward Nathan Knight got into foul trouble early, committing two fouls before the game hit the 18-minute mark. Knight would promptly leave the game and would not return for over eight minutes.
Meanwhile, junior guard Matt Milon was pulling more than his weight offensively. Milon put up 19 points in the first half, shooting 7-of-9 from the field and 5-of-6 from behind the arc. He led the charge as time ran down, extending the lead to 42-33 on a trey before settling for a 45-38 lead at the half.
In the second half, the Flames stormed back. Steadily, they chipped away at the Tribe advantage, taking a 52-51 lead on a layup by guard Tarkus Ferguson. After junior forward Justin Pierce hit a three for the College to tie it up at 54, the Flames put together a 7-0 run in under a minute. Not to be outdone, the Tribe responded immediately with a 12-point run of its own, giving it a 66-61 lead. The five-point edge would be the College’s largest of the rest of the game, as the Flames scored eight-straight points to take back the lead.
Pierce then completed a four-point play, swishing a three from the corner through contact. He made the free throw to give the Tribe back the advantage. Just two minutes later, Pierce turned his ankle, coming out of the game. However, he returned with just under three minutes to play.
With 1:41 left in the game, guard Godwin Boahen sunk two free throws for the Flames to put the game into a 79-all deadlock. On the next possession, freshman guard LJ Owens drove to the hoop and finished a tough layup as he was fouled, earning the and-one. He made the free throw, pushing the Tribe up three.
After a Milon foul, the Flames made one of two foul shots. Pierce missed a jumper with 35 seconds left, opening the door for the Flames to tie the game, which they did on a Boahen jumper from 12 feet. However, the Tribe would have a chance to win the game before overtime. Pierce crossed over to his right hand and drove at his defender, but his layup at the buzzer was blocked as he turned his ankle yet again.
Overtime would not go well for the Tribe. The Flames went 4-for-4 from the field including 2-for-2 from three, and while Owens, Pierce and Milon tried to keep the College in the game, they would ultimately be unsuccessful, as the Tribe fell 100-95.
Milon finished the game with 30 points for a career high. Pierce would add 25 and 11 boards, as well as seven assists. Owens would add 12, all after the first half, in his first collegiate start. Knight posted eight points in just 14 minutes, fouling out in the second half.
The Tribe now travels to South Bend, Indiana to take on the Notre Dame Fighting Irish in the final road game of the Gotham Classic for the College. It will return home Tuesday to take on Radford.