When an opponent shoots a measly 24 percent from the floor, there is no excuse for a loss. Not to worry, William and Mary needed no excuses Saturday as the Tribe (12-3, 4-1 CAA) demolished Drexel (8-9, 3-2 CAA) 73-48 in Philadelphia, Pa. to win its 12th game in 13 opportunities.
The visiting College silenced the Daskalakis Athletic Center crowd and grew a four-point halftime edge to as large as 28 points in the second half, and for the first time all year, emerged victorious in a conference game by more than one point.
“It is a shock to be in that position tonight,” Head Coach Tony Shaver said of his team’s blowout win. “It is a great feeling to be able to sit there in the last minute or two.”
The College outscored the Dragons 45-24 in the second half courtesy of better than 65 percent shooting from the floor.
“They are a team that needs to score in transition,” Shaver said of Drexel. “Our offense was so good tonight that they did not get too many opportunities.”
The undersized Dragons were held to its second lowest point total of the season in part due to a failure to adjust to the Tribe’s confusing match-up zone defense, yet mainly due to atrocious shooting. Drexel’s shooting managed only one basket over a 17-minute period spanning the end of the first half through the first five minutes of the second half.
“I could not be more impressed with what we are doing to come in here and defeat Drexel the way we did, it is amazing,” Shaver said. “We played as good a second half as we could.”
Despite 13 turnovers, Shaver pointed to precise execution on offense and defense, making the difference against Drexel.
The duo of senior guard David Schneider and sophomore forward Quinn McDowell led the execution for the College offensively with 20 and 19 points, respectively, on a combined 15 of 24 shooting. Yet, the unheralded play of senior center Steve Hess’ career-high 16 points, paved the way for the Tribe.
Hess provided an inside presence when Drexel pushed its defense to the perimeter to shut down the Tribe’s potent outside attack. Much like VCU, Drexel focused almost entirely on stopping the Tribe’s often talked about long-range threat. Hess asserted himself inside supplying an outlet that Drexel seemingly ignored.
“The biggest thing [for success] is team chemistry, especially in this league,” McDowell said. “Any night one guy can step up and tonight it was Steve.”
After a streaky shooting performance over the first 20 minutes, nothing could go wrong for the College in the second frame. After entering halftime with a slight 28-24 lead, the Tribe opened the half on a 15-4 run to put the game away with 13 minutes remaining.
Drexel sliced the lead to 11 with 8:11 remaining, but could get no closer as the Tribe bulged its margin to as many as 28 in the final minute.
“Against Delaware and Wilmington, we let the lead slip away,” Shaver said. “When we got up, we told the guys, ‘Great teams are great right now.’” I like the fact that we stayed aggressive [down the stretch].”
Schneider’s nine rebounds helped the Tribe out-rebound the Dragons 39-36. Each team connected on five three-pointers, even as the Dragons attempted ten more than the Tribe from long range.
The margin of victory was the second largest for the College this season.
The Tribe returns to action Jan. 14 against James Madison. Tip-off is set for 7 p.m. at Kaplan Arena.