Eight straight points from graduate guard Riley Casey propelled William and Mary (2-2) to a 65-53 win in overtime over George Mason (3-2) on Friday, Nov. 19, after the Patriots sent it to extra time with less than a second remaining.
“I’m really proud of the team,” head coach Ed Swanson said after the game. “We talked about how we had to out-scrap them today, and I thought we really did a great job defensively. We won the rebounding margin (45-43) and I thought we won the 50-50 (balls).”
The teams traded baskets for much of the opening period, with both teams shooting above 50 percent for the opening five minutes. The Patriots scored their first 10 from inside the paint, aided by three offensive rebounds. A three from sophomore forward Rebekah Frisby-Smith kept the Tribe in it early and two more splashes from redshirt guard Sydney Wagner and graduate student guard Riley Casey gave the Tribe a 15-10 advantage with 3:30 left in the first.
Both teams went cold to begin the second period. After making five of its first 10 attempts, the College missed its next 11 but still clung to a two-point lead midway through the period. A second Casey triple, two Wagner free throws and a Casey runner then blew the drought out of the water and gave the Tribe its largest lead of the game, 23-14. The College forced three Patriot turnovers and eight straight misses during this five-minute stretch.
Four straight Patriot points got them back in it as halftime approached, closing the gap to 23-18 with under two minutes to play. With three seconds on the shot clock after a foul, Wagner popped a 28-footer that swished through to extend it back to 26-18 and stop the run. Traded baskets resulted in a halftime score of 28-21.
Frisby-Smith opened the second half scoring with a euro step layup and drew a charge on the other end. A deuce from the Patriot forward cut into the advantage, but a triple from nearly as far out as the logo from Wagner made it 33-23 with 6:30 to play in the third. An and- one from Patriot forward Amaya Scott cut the Tribe to 35-28 and two free throws from senior guard Jayla Adams made it 35-30 with one minute remaining. The period ended 36-32.
A layup from Patriot guard Jordan Wakefield closed the gap to two to begin the fourth, the closest the game had been since the first quarter. A rainbow at the end of the shot clock from Tribe graduate student guard Kate Sramac and a layup from freshman forward Dani McTeer stabilized the team after that, making it 41-34 with seven minutes to play.
Traded baskets made it 45-36 Tribe until Patriot forward Tamia Lawhorne made just the second Patriot three-pointer of the game to cut it to 45-39 with three minutes to play. Wagner dropped a triple of her own and Lawhorne made a second bomb from the same spot to maintain the five-point margin as the clock ticked under two to play.
A stop and bucket from McTeer then came at a crucial juncture for the College, giving it a three-possession lead with 1:33 to go. Lawhorne then buried another three coming out of a Mason timeout to make it 49-45, and two free throws from Scott left the Tribe just two points in front with 40.7 ticks remaining. A missed layup gave the Patriots possession, still down two, with 10.4 seconds to go and a chance to legitimately snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.
The Patriots were then able to slip a pass into the post and Scott drew a foul with .6 seconds to play, swishing her fourth and fifth foul shots of the game to send it to overtime. A physical game throughout, the Patriots got the call when it mattered and came up clutch from the line.
Two free throws from Lawhorne gave the Patriots their first lead since the 4:50 mark in the first quarter to begin the overtime period and a Casey layup knotted it at 51. Two more Scott free throws put Mason back on top, but a Casey three from the right-wing made it 54-53 with two and a half minutes to go. Feeling it, Casey sized up the Mason defender on the next possession and splashed her fourth triple of the game to push it to four. She then scored a layup to build an 8-0 run all by herself and put the College up six with a minute left. A Sramac jumper put it on ice and the Tribe took it, 65-53.
“It really helps when Riley Casey can throw in a couple of shots in overtime,” Swanson said. “She had an incredible game. She was moving good and attacking well. She was shooting the ball well, so we were trying to get her on the side with the ball to make some plays. She’s a money player. She’s quiet and unassuming, but she’s got a killer instinct with the ball. I was happy to see that.”
The Tribe’s veteran backcourt made up for frontcourt injuries, with Wagner dropping 21 to lead all scorers and Casey adding 20 on 8-12 from the field. Sramac grabbed 12 rebounds and Casey led the team with five assists. Scott paced the Patriots with 19 points and Lawhorne added 13, hitting all but one of her team’s four threes. Each team did commit 20 turnovers in the contest.
Shots from distance were the difference in the game, with the Tribe netting nine at a 36 percent clip and the Patriots hitting just four out of 26 for 15 percent.
The Tribe will return to action Nov. 23 when it takes on the University of Maryland Eastern Shore in Princess Anne, MD. The game will tip off at 6 p.m.