William and Mary, stuck in the middle of the pack in the Colonial Athletic Association, split its two conference contests for the second consecutive week. The Tribe fell to Delaware on the road 68-59 last Friday night before blowing out Northeastern 71-53 in Sunday’s Golden Game at Kaplan Arena.
The College (16-8, 7-6 CAA) never led the Blue Hens (15-8, 8-4 CAA), falling behind early due to a cold shooting start. The Tribe missed its first eight field goal attempts, scoring just nine points in the first quarter. Delaware took advantage of the College’s poor offensive execution, building a seven-point lead by the end of the period.
The Tribe’s shooting improved somewhat in the second quarter, but the College still finished the first half with a subpar 27.3 field goal percentage. The Blue Hens’ lead shrunk to as close as one during the second quarter, but Delaware put together a 6-0 run to close out the period and lead 34-25 at halftime. The Blue Hens shot nearly 43 percent from the field in the first half. Delaware forward Rebecca Lawrence was the only player in double figures by halftime with 10.
Despite being unable to wrestle the lead away from the Blue Hens, the Tribe outscored Delaware in the third quarter, 20-17. The key to the College’s offensive revival was getting shots close to the basket: The Tribe scored 16 of its 20 third-quarter points in the paint, recording 34 points there total in Friday’s loss.
The College managed to tie the game twice in the fourth quarter, but both times Delaware promptly retook the lead on its next possession. With the score knotted at 55-55, the Blue Hens went on an 8-0 run that all but sealed the Tribe’s fate. The College could not muster another comeback bid, and ultimately fell 68-59.
Senior center Abby Rendle led all scorers with 18 points, scoring her 1,000th career point in the process. Rendle was joined in double figures by junior guard Bianca Boggs and sophomore guard Nari Garner, who scored 13 points apiece. Delaware was led by forward Nicole Enabosi, who recorded a double-double with 17 points and 16 rebounds.
Sunday, the Tribe got off to a far different start than it did Friday, bursting out of the gates against Northeastern (12-12, 7-6 CAA) with 23 first-quarter points while shooting 62.5 percent from the field in the opening 10 minutes. The College closed the first quarter on an 11-0 run to take a 23-13 lead into the second quarter, senior guard Jenna Green capping off the stellar start with her 504th career assist to break the program’s all-time record.
“She’s been great and hard-working, and emulates everything that we want in a William and Mary player,” head coach Ed Swanson said. “It’s great that she finally got that award.”
The College’s run of unanswered points stretched to 16 as the second quarter began, with Northeastern failing to score a single point for over six and a half minutes of game time. The Tribe shot nearly 55 percent from the field in the first half, Boggs and sophomore forward Victoria Reynolds pacing the Tribe with 11 and 10 first-half points, respectively. At halftime, the College held a commanding 39-27 advantage.
Swanson lauded the team’s first-half performance, highlighting the Tribe’s performance on defense as the key to building the double-digit lead.
“We were flying [on defense] … we were moving pretty good, we were rebounding, and that leads to good quality shots,” Swanson said. “We just played with a lot more energy. Shooting the ball helps, but I thought our defense and our rebounding was really what started us … when we have a team take quick shots, and we can rally on the glass, we’re moving a lot better on offense.”
The Tribe opened the third quarter with a 7-0 run, increasing an already substantial lead. The College maintained that double-digit advantage for the entirety of the second half, the Huskies unable to mount a sustained comeback bid. The result was never in doubt over the final 20 minutes, and the Tribe closed out a lopsided 71-53 victory to avenge its double-digit road loss to Northeastern back in January.
Four College players finished in double figures, Boggs and Reynolds leading all scorers with 19 points each. Rendle asserted herself down low with an 11-point, 16-rebound performance, while Garner contributed 12 points off the bench. A key to the win was certainly strong play in the lane: The Tribe out-rebounded the Huskies 27-19, scoring 36 points in the paint and 11 second-chance points.
“You got to score points in a lot of different ways,” Swanson said. “We scored 58 on Friday night and 71 today. I think a difference was we got on the glass, our defense was better, and we were a lot more active.”
The Tribe returns to action at home Friday night against UNC-Wilmington. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m.