Coming off two–straight wins last week, William and Mary (3-0) kept its early momentum going and beat East Carolina (1-2) decisively Tuesday, Nov. 12, in Greenville, North Carolina. With an impressive 76-68 win, the Tribe earned its first 3-0 start since 1987-88.
During the game, the Tribe took advantage of an explosive third quarter to seal a win against its former rival in the Colonial Athletic Association. The Tribe shot 10-for-14 from the field in the pivotal third quarter, while the Pirates shot only 7-for-20, and it increased its three-point lead at the beginning of the period to as much as 12 points, staying ahead the entire fourth quarter to win the game.
Pounding the Pirates on offense, four Tribe players scored in double figures. Sophomore guard Eva Hodgson led the Tribe with a game-high 18 points and added a career-high eight rebounds and six assists. The Tribe’s leading scorer in all three games so far, Hodgson has shot perfect from the free-throw line this year (17-of-17). Meanwhile, senior forward Victoria Reynolds earned her first double-double of the season, her third overall in her career, as she finished with 17 points, 12 rebounds and six steals. Coming off the bench, sophomore guard Sydney Wagner, a transfer from Stetson, scored 14 points and junior forward Bailey Eichner put up 11 points, three rebounds and three assists.
With Tuesday’s win against ECU, head coach Ed Swanson moved just two games shy of winning his 500th career victory. In his 498th career win, he moved one step closer to becoming the 69th D-I coach to achieve that mark.
The game began with the Tribe committing many turnovers but staying tied with the Pirates, During the first quarter, the Tribe turned the ball over 10 times — including five ECU steals — while the Pirates turned it over only four times, twice from steals.
The Tribe and the Pirates were tied 11-11 midway through the first quarter, but the Pirates tore off a six-point scoring run to take their largest lead of the game. They brought the score to 17-11 with almost two minutes left in the first quarter, but the Tribe responded with buckets by Hodgson, Wagner and Eichner to tie it back again, 21-21.
In the second quarter, the Tribe kept much better control of the ball, committing far fewer turnovers and making many more steals. The Tribe made five steals and had five turnovers, while the Pirates made four steals and had seven turnovers.
The second quarter opened promisingly for the Tribe with a three-pointer by Wagner, bringing the score to 24-21, but the Pirates fought back hard. The lead changed three times before a timeout, with the Pirates tying the Tribe twice, but the Tribe brought the score to 32-30 with a jumper by Reynolds. After the timeout, the Pirates briefly pulled ahead of the Tribe by two, but the Tribe went on a 9-4 scoring run to take the lead, 41-35.
Ending the second quarter on a bang, ECU guard LaShonda Monk sank a desperate 3-pointer over two Tribe defenders from near half court. A buzzer-beater, it cut the Tribe’s lead to 41-38 at halftime.
During the third quarter, the Tribe wreaked havoc on the Pirates and took control of the game. Scoring the first seven points of the third quarter, the Tribe pushed its lead to double digits for the first time. Junior center Gabby Rogers started the run with a layup in transition, then Reynolds swished a right-wing three-pointer and Hodgson sank a jumper, giving the Tribe a healthy 48-38 lead before a timeout.
After the timeout, the Tribe kept its lead well ahead of the Pirates and made several nice plays. Following a drive and a jumper by ECU guard Taniyah Thompson, Wagner made a reverse layup to bring the score to 57-46. Next, Reynolds spun around Monk and sank a jumper, 59-46. Lastly, freshman forward Bre Bellamy put up a right-hand floater to cap off the Tribe’s scoring, 67-52. A jumper and a free throw by the Pirates brought the score to 67-55 to end of the third quarter.
The fourth quarter opened with a bucket by the Pirates, but the Tribe rattled off six points in a row and put the game almost beyond hope for ECU. Hodgson started the run with two free throws before junior guard Nyla Pollard added one of her own. Then Bellamy sank a beautiful three-pointer to make it 73-57 with 5:34 left in regulation. On that particular play, Hodgson drove to the basket, drawing the Pirate defenders, then kicked the ball out to Eichner, and Eichner passed the ball to Bellamy, who drained an open shot from three-point range.
The Pirates pushed the Tribe to a single-digit lead twice in the final two minutes of the game, but they ran short on time. First, they sent Wagner to the free-throw line, then they fouled Hodgson to stop the clock, a desperate move given Hodgson’s perfect free-throw record. Wagner went 1-of-2 at the free-throw line and Hodgson went 2-of-2, ensuring victory. The Tribe won the game by double digits, 78-68.
The Tribe shot a season-best 53.8 percent (28-for-52) from the floor against ECU including 71.4 percent (10-for-14) in the pivotal third quarter. They outmatched the Pirates in rebounds 35-34, and they forced them into 21 turnovers, including six steals from Reynolds.
After Tuesday’s win, the College will hit the road to face Richmond (2-1) Wednesday, Nov. 20.