Despite a season-high 30–point, 10–rebound effort from senior forward Nathan Knight, William and Mary (5-3) fell 88-77 to Buffalo (5-2) Saturday.
The team took an early 14-11 lead by way of three triples, two of which were from Knight, but the Bulls responded with a 7-0 run to take the lead, 20-15, with 12 minutes, 56 seconds remaining in the first half. The College responded with four points from Knight and a layup from graduate transfer Bryce Barnes, but a second Bulls run 9-0 opened up a 10-point lead with less than seven minutes before halftime. Buffalo kept building the lead to 41-27, but a brief Tribe rally led by junior guard Luke Loewe fought back to 43-32 at halftime.
Building on the slight momentum before the break, the College came out firing in the second half, earning a 9-3 run of its own to reduce the lead to five, courtesy of Knight and Loewe.
The game became more back and forth after that, with a bucket from graduate guard Tyler Hamilton making it 51-47 with under 15 minutes remaining. However, back-to-back Buffalo threes opened up an 8-0 run that pushed the lead all the way back to 12 with 12 minutes, 54 seconds to play.
Not to go out easily, the Tribe mustered a comeback attempt, with Knight earning an and-one and senior forward Andy Van Vliet nailing a three to bring it back to 63-58. Buffalo then proceeded to go on a 14-3 rip to close the Tribe out for good. The teams traded baskets until the final whistle marked an 11-point loss.
The Bulls had a strong shooting night, converting 7-of–13 three pointers in the second half and shooting 55 percent from the field. They also forced 18 Tribe turnovers and turned them into 22 points.
After the game, head coach Dane Fischer stressed a need for improvement on the defensive side of the ball.
“Offense wasn’t the issue other than the turnovers obviously, but even with that we scored 77,” Fischer said. “You give up 88 points, you’re not going to win a lot of basketball games and we need to have much more of a commitment to the defensive end of the floor.”
Fischer praised the mental toughness of his team throughout the contest, stringing together runs to keep it close until late in the second half.
“I really like the way that this group just continues to compete,” Fischer said. “I thought we did that for pretty much the entire game today; I thought there were a decent amount of times we could have just kind of folded, but I like the way this group has shown resiliency and think that just needs to carry forward to more of a defensive mindset, which we’re going to work on.”
Fischer also noted that Knight’s leadership helped keep the team grounded and focused throughout.
“I thought he did a really good job of trying to lead us today and just trying to keep us fighting,” Fischer said. “And I thought the other guys were into that as well, and I thought that that was really good.”
The Tribe returns to action Dec. 3 when it faces off against in-state rival Old Dominion at Kaplan Arena.