William and Mary men’s basketball (16-10, 8-5 CAA) dropped its third straight game Saturday, Feb. 8, 70-64 at UNC-Wilmington (7-18, 2-10 CAA) despite outshooting the Seahawks from the field and from three-point range.
It was the College’s 19 turnovers that proved to be its undoing this time around, with UNC-W turning those takeaways into 28 points to help secure its six-point win.
The Tribe started the game out on fire, knocking down six of its first seven looks including three from long range in a row courtesy of senior forward/center Andy Van Vliet and sophomore forward Quinn Blair. This barrage was enough to force a Seahawk time-out and a 29-15 Tribe advantage with 8:34 to play in the opening half.
The time-out proved key, with UNC-W opening up a 19-4 run following it to come all the way back and seize the lead. It was during this scoring run that Tribe turnovers really came into play, with 15 of the Seahawk points coming off nine giveaways from the College. The scoring blitz resulted in a 34-33 UNC-W advantage and a layup from graduate transfer guard Bryce Barnes allowed the Tribe to escape into halftime up 35-34.
The College started the second half back in the driver’s seat, scoring the first six points of the period and opening up a 41-34 advantage. The Seahawks called another time-out and once again came out of it with guns blazing. They popped off a 22-5 run that included 10 points in a row and resulted in a 58-48 Seahawk lead with 7:44 remaining in the contest.
The Tribe got it as close as 64-60, but the Seahawks put it out of the reach from the charity stripe to send the Tribe home looking for answers as it enters a two-game home stand.
Senior forward/center Nathan Knight added another double-double to his nation-leading total of 20 with 16 points and 13 rebounds, albeit with six turnovers. Van Vliet and freshman guard Miguel Ayesa added 12 apiece and junior guard Luke Loewe contributed 10.
The Tribe outshot the Seahawks by two percentage points from the field and by five points from three, but Seahawks’ 14 steals and 28 points off turnovers were too much to overcome from the field. The Tribe even outrebounded the Seahawks 35-23.
This was the second meeting between the teams on the year, the first being a comfortable 79-63 Tribe victory at home. After the game, head coach Dane Fischer lamented not following through on the main objective for the game.
“Our number one key coming into tonight was trying to take care of the ball,” Fischer said. “Because we thought that they would really try to ratchet up the pressure, especially being at home, and their guards did a phenomenal job of that. We didn’t handle it well enough; when we did, I thought we got great shots and shot the ball well, obviously got off to an unbelievable start. But we just couldn’t get over the hump against that pressure.”
The Tribe will return to action Thursday, Feb. 13, when it takes on Drexel at 7 p.m. at home to try to snap the three-game skid.