Saturday, March 4, William and Mary (17-12, 12-6 CAA) defeated Hofstra (10-19, 4-14 CAA) 69-50 at Kaplan Arena in Williamsburg, Virginia. Saturday marks the last regular season game for the Tribe, which clinched the No. 4 seed in the 2023 Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) Championship.
Saturday’s game, designated as Senior Day, honored graduate students Riley Casey and Sydney Wagner, as well as seniors Bre Bellamy and Chaniqwa Gilliam to celebrate their achievements on and off the court.
“We can’t believe this is our last time playing in Kaplan,” Casey said. “We want to leave with the underclassmen this idea of making William and Mary a team you cannot underestimate.”
This win cements the Tribe’s conference record at 12-6, matching the program’s all-time best. This achievement is impressive on its own, but with this year being head coach Erin Dickerson Davis’ first year with the team, it becomes even more special.
“I’m so thankful for this opportunity to coach these women,” Dickerson Davis said. “I’m proud to be here and coach the Tribe. I’m proud of their pride for William and Mary because I don’t know if they always had it, but they have found it and they haven’t let it go.”
The Tribe started the game with efficient scoring from the field, going on a 8-0 run in the first two minutes of the quarter. Wagner exemplified lights-out shooting, knocking down her first four consecutive shots from the field. The graduate student guard contributed 11 of the 21 total Tribe points in the first period.
This hot start continued throughout the rest of the first quarter with William and Mary dominantly outscoring Hofstra 21-5 by the end of the period. The second quarter, however, proved to be a different story for the Tribe, who came back on to the floor cold.
The Tribe’s go-to scorers, Casey and Wagner, shot a combined zero for nine from the field in the second quarter. The team was able to put up only two points throughout the entire period from a pair of free throws by junior forward Rebekah Frisby-Smith.
Hofstra capitalized on the Tribe’s poor shooting and brought the Green and Gold lead down to only four points, primarily scoring through graduate student guard Brandy Thomas and junior center Zyheima Swint. Thomas and Swint combined for 12 points in the second quarter. The Tribe led Hofstra 23-19 as both teams headed into halftime.
“I talked to my coaches, and we did not really know what to say,” Dickerson Davis said. “Whatever we say, let’s just be positive. They’re beating themselves up enough right now, there’s no point in us going in there and adding to that.”
Showing shades of their first quarter performance, William and Mary emerged out of the locker room with a hot hand. Casey bounced back from her rough second quarter shooting performance, sinking four of five shots from behind the arc. Wagner also put up seven points in the period, marking another commanding quarter for the Tribe. The team outscored Hofstra 29-14, extending their lead to 52-33 entering the fourth.
The fourth quarter was more of the same for the Tribe, scoring 17 points in this last period. Notable scoring contributions came from Bellamy, Casey and freshman guard Alexa Mikeska. Though Hofstra matched William and Mary in scoring during the fourth quarter, the 19-point deficit proved to be too much for the Pride to overcome. The final score resulted in a 69-50 win for the Tribe.
Casey and Wagner led the Tribe in scoring, each with 18 points. Wagner’s performance on Saturday moved the graduate guard into No. 10 on the Tribe’s all-time scoring list.
“Today was the last day of our season and now we’re into a whole new season. 0-0,” Dickerson Davis said. “It does not matter who we’re matched up against, we have to play Tribe basketball. We have worked so hard to get to this moment. It’s win or go home, and we’re trying to win by any means necessary.”
After being picked No. 7 in the CAA’s preseason poll and beginning conference play with two double-digit losses, many would not have expected the Tribe to have clinched the No. 4 seed entering the CAA championship. The No. 4 seed is the highest seeding the Tribe has achieved since the 2019-2020 season, when the tournament was canceled.
“First things first — we are chasing banners,” Bellamy said. “That’s at the top of the list.”
The CAA championship tournament begins Wednesday, March 8. The No. 4 seeding earned the Tribe a bye into Friday’s quarterfinals. William and Mary will face the winner of the No. 5 North Carolina A&T vs. No. 12 Hofstra/No. 13 North Carolina Wilmington game in the quarterfinals on Friday, March 10 at SECU Arena in Towson, Maryland.