Women’s Basketball: Low-energy loss to No. 1 ranked JMU

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Jamie Holt / The Flat Hat

William and Mary (12-12, 5-8 CAA) dropped a close one Friday to Towson (16-9, 10-4 CAA), despite posting a better field goal percentage, three-point percentage, and assist total.

The Tribe imposed its will early, netting three quick buckets and tipping numerous Towson passes on the defensive end to take an 8-2 lead with just over seven minutes left in the first quarter. The pressure forced the Tigers to miss five of its first six shots and commit two turnovers as well. The Tribe then put together a 7-0 run led by senior guard Bianca Boggs and freshman guard Eva Hodgson to take a 15-5 lead before Towson scored five straight to cut the lead in half. The teams traded baskets for the remainder of the period, resulting in a 21-14 Tribe lead. The College scored 10 points off seven Tiger turnovers in the first and shot 50 percent from the field.

“A lot of teams are keying on me so I have to recognize that and look for my open teammates because we have plenty of shooters on the team,” Boggs said. “So, it’s about drawing as many people as I can and looking to kick. We’re always a very unselfish team in all the years I’ve been here, so that’s always a good thing.”

Two baskets by sophomore center Gabby Rogers and a three from junior forward Victoria Reynolds opened the scoring in the second quarter to extend the Tribe advantage to 28-16. The Tigers’ Kionna Jeter then sank a three from the right wing and two layups pulled Towson back within six, 30-24. Three free throws and a three from guard Nukiya Mayo then brought the Tigers all the way back, tying the game at 30. A layup by sophomore Harper Birdsong snapped the 14-0 Towson run and a freshman forward Emma Krause and-1 put the Tribe back up two, 35-33. A Tiger jumper tied it up at intermission at 35.

Towson outscored the Tribe 21-14 in the second period. Reynolds and Rogers paced the College in the first half with eight apiece and Boggs added six with two assists. Krause contributed six more off the bench and sophomore guard Nyla Pollard dished four assists. Mayo led the scoring effort for the Tigers with 12, Jeter added six, and Holder made five with six rebounds.

Reynolds hit her third triple of the game, Hodgson threw a crosscourt dime to Pollard, and Boggs converted a layup to jump out to a seven-point lead to begin the third. A Rogers hook shot extended it to nine, but a Jeter corner three and layup cut it to 47-43. Reynolds then knocked down another three to make it 50-43 with 4:50 left in the quarter. The teams traded baskets for several minutes, and the Tigers pulled within four until a Rogers layup off a Boggs feed made it 58-52. Another Holder layup left it a four-point game with a quarter to play.

Towson’s Janeen Camp opened the fourth quarter with a layup to pull within two, and the teams traded makes over the succeeding minutes to make it 62-59 with 6:44 left in the contest. A Danielle Durjan three tied it at 62, but a Boggs rainbow from the right wing put the Tribe back on top with just over six minutes left. Two Durjan free throws made it a one-point game with five to play, but another Boggs dish set up an and-1 from Rogers, marking her eighth consecutive basket made. Another Camp layup brought the Tigers back within two, 68-66, and two Mayo free throws knotted it at 68 with four minutes remaining.

Two Birdsong free throws but the Tribe back up two, but a Qierra Murray floater tied it back up at 70. The Tigers, in the bonus now, converted two more foul shots to take the lead and Reynolds made one of two to bring the College within one, 72-71. A Jeter layup from the left side extended the Tiger lead back to three, and head coach Ed Swanson called time-out with exactly 1:00 on the clock. A Reynolds offensive foul gave the Tigers the ball back with under 40 seconds to play and two Mayo free throws gave Towson a five-point advantage, 76-71. A Boggs layup brought the Tribe back within three, but Jeter sank two free throws to make it a two-possession game again with 24.8 seconds left. Another Boggs layup made it 78-75, but two more free throws off an intentional foul all but iced it for the Tigers, who finished with an 82-75 victory.

The Tigers outrebounded the Tribe 36-24 and grabbed 18 offensive boards to the College’s nine. Swanson stressed the effort on the glass heading down the home stretch of the season.

“It’s been a point of emphasis all year,” Swanson said. “We’ve got to do better, and we work on it on a weekly basis, and it’s a lot of heart and desire, going to get the basketball. Mechanically, we’re right, we block out, but we don’t pursue the ball. It’s an area of concern for us, with the remaining season and as the future moves on.”

Boggs finished with a team-high 18 points and dished out a season-high eight assists.

Rogers poured in 17 points on eight of nine shooting and grabbed five rebounds. She intends to learn from the mistakes against Towson and correct them for the last games of the year.

“Personally, I believe we need to just forget this game,” Rogers said, “But remember why we lost it and come into practice tomorrow and work on that.”

Boggs echoed Rogers’ sentiment.

“I think we have to take it day-by-day,” Boggs said. “But obviously the goal is to go 5-0 going into the tournament, get some momentum and peak at the right time. But just take it day by day like Gabby said, just focusing on where we’re lacking right now.”

The Tribe returns to action Sun. Feb. 24 at home against James Madison.