William and Mary could not extend its winning streak to three games last Saturday, Nov. 24, when the Tribe fell to Davidson, 76-65. With the loss, the College’s record fell back to .500 going into a matchup with an undefeated East Carolina squad. The Pirates had won their first five contests of the season, including their most recent win over in-state rival Wake Forest from the Atlantic Coast Conference. However, the game against the Tribe was the Pirates’ first away from Williams Arena. The College was fresh off of a two-game road swing with two more games on the road to follow later this weekend. Tuesday, the Tribe (3-2) got off to a fast start as timely baskets, stifling defense and a strong rebounding effort allowed the College to overcome 26 turnovers in a 63-43 victory over the Pirates (5-1).
“It was kind of bouncing back from those turnovers and thinking next play, even if that’s defensively to get my team going,” freshman guard Eva Hodgson said.
The Pirates started off strong with the first two buckets of the game, while the College could not score on its first three possessions, two of which ended in turnovers. However, senior guard Bianca Boggs and junior forward Victoria Reynolds evened the score at four after the first three minutes with back-to-back transition layups. Boggs’ layup gave her 1,000 career points, as she became just the 20th player in program history to accomplish the feat.
“She’s had an outstanding career and we’re lucky to have her,” head coach Ed Swanson said. “She’s just a great example of what William and Mary women’s basketball is all about.”
With 5:55 to play in the opening quarter, Hodgson pulled up for a mid-range jumper in transition to give the College its first lead of the evening, 6-4. The College ultimately stretched its scoring run to eight points, including four from Boggs, before the Pirates hit a long two-point jump shot to cut the deficit in half. After the media timeout, neither team was able to get a stop until the Pirates forced redshirt sophomore guard Harper Birdsong into a tough shot with less than three minutes to go in the first quarter. Nevertheless, the Pirates could not take advantage on the offensive end. Reynolds drained a three and dropped in a layup on consecutive possessions to stretch the College’s lead to 19-13. Birdsong’s five points late in the quarter helped the College to stretch its advantage to 24-15 after 10 minutes.
After a blistering finish to the first quarter, neither team scored for over three minutes to start the second quarter. Sophomore center Gabby Rogers was whistled for a foul at the 6:50 mark, and guard Raven Johnson made one of two free throws to bring the score to 24-16 in favor of the home team. The Pirates inched closer with a layup over halfway through the quarter, but the Tribe finally answered at the 4:25 mark to reestablish its nine-point lead on a Birdsong three-pointer, its first points of the quarter. The Pirates responded with a three of their own, but Birdsong scored again after the media timeout to give her the Tribe’s last 10 points. With just over two minutes to play in the half, the College finally got offensive contributions from someone other than Birdsong as freshman forward Emma Krause nailed her first three-pointer of the game to give the Tribe its first double-digit lead of the evening, 32-21. The Pirates were able to chip away at the deficit before the break, but the Tribe still held a 32-25 edge at half despite only scoring eight points in the second period.
At the start of the third quarter, both teams traded turnovers before Hodgson weaved through the Pirates’ defense and laid the ball in to push the lead back to nine. A couple possessions later, Reynolds came up with an offensive rebound off of a miss by sophomore guard Nyla Pollard and drew a foul, sinking both free throws to give the College a double-digit lead again. Hodgson added to the lead and pushed the scoring spurt to seven unanswered with a three on the ensuing possession. The Pirates finally got on the scoreboard in the third quarter on a free throw with just over seven minutes remaining. The College took advantage of the Pirates’ offensive woes, outscoring them 12-1 in the first five minutes of the quarter. Krause capped the run with her second triple of the evening, giving the Tribe a commanding 44-26 lead.
“We knew they were going to turn up the pressure on us, so in order for us to get off to a good start [in the second half] was important,” Swanson said.
The Pirates managed to stem the tide with ten straight points to end the Tribe’s run. Guard Justice Gee had six of the 10 points to bring the Pirates within eight, but Pollard stopped the run with a minute left in the quarter to put the College back up double-digits. On the Tribe’s last possession of the quarter, Hodgson made her second three of the quarter to give the College a comfortable lead, 49-36, with just one quarter to play.
The Tribe continued to stretch its lead with three free throws in the first three minutes of the final quarter. The Tribe’s first field goal of the period came on a Boggs assist to Reynolds who made a contested shot with the shot clock winding down just before the six-minute mark. Reynolds’ basket gave the College a 55-38 lead at the media timeout. The Pirates were never able to make a run in the fourth quarter and the College closed them out for a 63-43 victory.
“This was a really good win following Saturday,” Swanson said. “We were really disappointed with how we played on Saturday, so I challenged a couple of our players this week and they responded.”
The Pirates were led by Johnson’s 10 points and 14 rebounds. The College benefited from a balanced offensive attack, as Reynolds paced the team with a double-double on 15 points and 15 boards. Birdsong, Hodgson and Pollard were also in double-figures and Boggs had a strong all-around effort with nine points, 11 rebounds and five assists. Pollard also chipped in 12 rebounds to complete her double-double.
The Pirates will look to rebound from their first loss of the season and attempt to win their first road game of the year when they travel to Charlotte Saturday. Meanwhile, the College will look to build on the momentum of a victory over previously undefeated East Carolina when it finishes a busy week with two road games. Friday, the College will take on Hartford before playing another game in Connecticut Sunday against Fairfield.
“We’re looking forward to this trip,” Swanson said. “Two great tests for us to really gauge where we are in this young season.”