Delaware 61, William and Mary 48
It is right there, Head Coach Tony Shaver keeps telling his team. One pass, one play, one game, will be the tipping point, and suddenly the potential of a young team, potential you can practically see bursting forth from their high tops, will be fully realized.
Sadly, it did not happen Wednesday night.
William and Mary (4-10, 0-3 CAA) fell 61-48 at Delaware Wednesday as the Tribe remained in last place of the CAA. Senior center Marcus Kitts led the College with 11 points while junior forward JohnMark Ludwick added nine points of his own.
“I just told our team…I really think we are close,” Shaver said. “They can call me insane if they want, but I think we are close to being a good basketball team. We do have breakdowns out here. A lot of it is due to a lot of pressure on the floor.”
After falling behind 34-26 at the half, the Tribe came out in an aggressive man-to-man defense that held the Blue Hens to four points in the first eight minutes of the second half. But the College could not buy a bucket to take the lead, even from its best shooters.
Junior forward Quinn McDowell, the Tribe’s leading scorer who averages 15.3 points-per-game, was held to seven points on 3-for-10 shooting on the night. Freshman guard Brandon Britt went 2-for-10 from the field.
It was opposite of how most nights have gone for the College this season. Good looks turned into misses. Drives turned into blocked shots. It was the type of bizarre night that saw Ludwick, usually only a stationary marksman from the outside, get more praise for his defense than his shooting.
“He didn’t score in the second half and I thought he passed up good scoring opportunities, but I thought the thing he did really well tonight was battle defensively,” Shaver said. “It was his best defensive ballgame.”
Ludwick tallied only four rebounds in 30 minutes. But he was active defensively, challenging the Blue Hen’s three-point shooter in the College’s matchup zone and denying the passing lanes en route to a game-high three steals.
The effort was a far cry from Monday’s performance which saw the junior benched for the last 18 minutes of the second half due to his defense, or his lack thereof.
“UNC-W was, for me, a rough game,” Ludwick said. “It was rough for a few guys really until later in the game. I really didn’t have anything different in my mind tonight. I just kind of knew they were athletic and that it would take good defense.”
For the most part, the Tribe played well defensively against the Blue Hens. But it only shot 33 percent from the field and was 2-of-12 from behind the three point line in the second half.
That is the way it has gone for this young Tribe team. For every one thing that goes up defense, Kitts, Ludwick another falls back to earth – McDowell, rebounding (the Tribe was beat on the boards 44-to-27), offense. It is the mark of a young team.
But one that believes it is close.
“Coach is talking a lot about that,” Ludwick said. “I think it is just a matter of getting five guys on the same page any given night.”