Friday, Feb. 17, William and Mary (14-11, 9-5 CAA) lost a hard-fought battle against Towson 66-59 at Kaplan Arena in Williamsburg, Virginia.
“You know, we’re battling a lot of fatigue, battling people fighting through injury and sickness,” head coach Erin Dickerson Davis said. “We gave everything we had but just came up short today.”
Graduate guards Sydney Wagner and Riley Casey facilitated a majority of the Tribe’s offensive production, continuing their impressive seasons with 20 and 16 points respectively. Towson redshirt junior guard Kylie Kornegay-Lucas, sophomore guard Patricia Anumgba and sophomore forward Quinzia Fulmore each scored double-digit points for the Tigers, proving to be too overpowering for the Green and Gold’s defense to contain.
The first quarter started hot for the Tribe, largely due to its temporarily impenetrable full court trap. After a solid first defensive possession, Wagner put the Green and Gold on the board with an acrobatic finish in the paint. Towson initially responded, but the Tribe’s defense quickly became impossible to break.
With the game tied 6-6, senior forward Bre Bellamy forced a Tiger turnover, leading directly to a Casey three-pointer at the other end. After multiple baskets from junior center Kayla Beckwith, the momentum was completely in the Tribe’s favor, capped off with a Casey last-second runner to extend the lead to 24-13 going into the second quarter.
The Tigers came out a different team after the break. After a Fulmore and-1, Wagner scored two quick buckets on back-to-back possessions, stretching the lead to 29-16 with eight minutes, two seconds left in the quarter. However, Wagner’s points were the last of the Tribe’s scoring in the half.
Towson began a 17-0 run, with baskets coming from almost every Tiger on the floor. Junior guard Alexia Nelson wreaked havoc on both sides of the ball, following a basket with an immediate steal that forced a Tribe foul. Fulmore relentlessly attacked the paint, forcing the Green and Gold to leave senior guard Anissa Rivera open for an easy Towson three.
Kornegay-Lucas tied the game with just under two minutes left in the half. After two Tiger free throws and an Anumgba layup with six seconds left, the Tribe found itself down 33-29 going into half.
“When we went down at halftime, I just said it’s not about Towson, it is not about N.C. A&T, it’s not about Elon,” Dickerson Davis said. “It’s not about anybody that we’ve played. It’s about us and how we do things, how we play basketball, and we just took a second to regroup.”
The Tribe came back with a new energy and quickly worked to erase the deficit. Freshman guard Alexa Mikeska revamped the Green and Gold’s offense with a fast break layup, only for Towson’s Anumgba to knock down a jumper in response on the other end.
After a missed shot from the Tigers, Wagner went coast to coast, finishing a tough layup at the basket to cut the Towson lead to two with just under eight minutes left in the quarter. On the next Tribe offensive possession, Casey scored a game-tying jumper, getting the crowd in Kaplan Arena up on their feet.
The game continued back-and-forth throughout the majority of the quarter, but with four and a half minutes left, the Tribe slowly began pulling away. After a pair of Riley free throws and another Wagner basket, William and Mary cemented the momentum shift with a three from junior forward Rebekah Frisby-Smith, forcing a Towson timeout and extending the Tribe’s lead to 44-37. The Tigers clawed back, and as the third quarter ended, Towson had brought itself back within two points.
The fourth period started with yet another Towson run. The Tigers relentlessly attacked the paint, starting with an early layup from Rivera to tie the game 49-49. After a Nelson three and layup on back to back offensive possessions, Fulmore finished two consecutive tough shots in the paint to give Towson a 58-49 lead with five minutes, 55 seconds left. The Tribe were not ready to roll over and quit, though. Wagner, Beckwith and freshman forward Kayla Rolph all scored on consecutive Tribe possessions, cutting the lead to 60-58. However, the Tiger’s size and crafty guard play made it impossible to erase the deficit completely. After multiple late missed three pointers, the Tribe had to foul, but late free throws for Towson sealed the deal.
“I think people wanted to win so badly that they wanted to do it on their own, and that happens sometimes,” Dickerson Davis said. “But we’ll learn from it, we’ll watch it and we’ll use it going into the next game.”
The Tribe look to bounce back against CAA conference opponent Elon (8-18, 4-11CAA) on Friday, Feb. 24 at home in Kaplan Arena in Williamsburg, Virginia.