Thursday, Nov. 9, William and Mary men’s basketball (2-1) defeated American (0-2), 75-56 at Kaplan Arena in Williamsburg, Va.
“I’m really, really pleased with the effort tonight, especially on the defensive end,” head coach Dane Fischer said. “I thought our guys came in with terrific focus.”
The Tribe defense shined throughout the game, holding the Eagles to an 18.5% three-point percentage, compared to the Tribe’s own 35% conversion rate from behind the arc. The Tribe only let American step up to the free throw line 10 times, whereas William and Mary had 32 free throw attempts and converted 24 of them.
William and Mary sophomore guard Trey Moss started off the night with a layup 45 seconds into the game after American senior forward Matt Rogers turned the ball over in the paint.
Less than three minutes into the game, American took its first and only lead of the night when senior guard Lorenzo Donadio drained a three to put the Eagles up 3-2. The Tribe then returned with a powerful run.
Junior guard/forward Gabe Dorsey converted three free throws after a shooting foul from Eagles freshman forward Matt Mayock. Soon after, junior forward Caleb Dorsey, who recently joined his brother for his first season with the Tribe, followed with a three-point jump shot to put William and Mary up 8-3.
Sophomore guard/forward Jack Karasinski then kept the three-point trend coming with a layup and-one, after drawing a foul from American sophomore center Jermaine Ballisager Webb. Sophomore guard Chase Lowe then finished the Tribe’s early run with a layup to put the team ahead 13-3.
Moss, Karasinski and Lowe carried much of the Tribe’s offense in the first half, shooting four for five, three for five and two for two, respectively, in first half field goals. At the nine minute, 15 second mark, Moss lit up Kaplan Arena with an electric dunk to extend the Tribe’s lead to fifteen points, at 21-6.
After a fast break layup, junior guard Matteus Case gave the Tribe its biggest lead of the half at the six minute, six second mark with two free throws following a personal foul from American senior guard Lincoln Ball, which put the Eagles at 11 fouls in the half. The Tribe subsequently stood tall at 29-12.
In the last six minutes of the first half, American sank two layups, a three-pointer from sophomore guard Geoff Sprouse and five free throws to cut the Tribe’s lead to nine at 33-24. However, a clutch dunk from Karasinski with 32 seconds left helped secure the Tribe’s momentum going into the second half with a 35-24 lead.
In the second half, an uptick in offensive intensity from American’s two big players, Ballisager Webb and Rogers, who stand at seven feet and six foot nine, respectively, led to a higher-scoring half for the Eagles. However, a killer offensive half from Tribe new recruit Sean Houpt, a graduate student guard from Florida Tech, helped the Tribe hold its lead until the final buzzer.
After an early layup from Karasinski and three buckets from the Eagles, Houpt hit his first jumper of the night — a three pointer to push the score to 40-30. However, after a couple hits from American’s offense, even a layup from Moss could not stop American from cutting the Tribe’s lead to five.
This close dip in the score difference woke up the Tribe’s offense. Houpt kept his three point game strong, converting on four of six attempts. Dorsey also found success with his three ball, converting on two of four attempts.
When asked about what generated early success for him on offense, Houpt discussed the selfless team dynamic which has unlocked his strengths on the scoring side of the game.
“It feels great,” Houpt said. “I mean, the offense is designed where I feel like I fit in well and everyone does a good job. I feel like we have a really unselfish team, nobody cares who gets the shots, I guess it’s just someone different all the time. And it just feels good to be a part of a group that plays so well together and when we’re clicking on offense, movement, setting screens for each other, we can be a special group.”
Following Houpt’s final three-pointer and a layup from Moss to put the Tribe up 61-41, a series of fouls on American led to the Tribe reaching its biggest lead of the night with a 25 point differential.
When Dorsey drew a shooting foul from Donadio behind the three point line, Ball then committed a flagrant foul on Case later in the possession. The two William and Mary players converted their five collective free throws, and were joined by sophomore forward Charlie Williams who sank one of his two free throws seconds later for the Tribe. The score was then 66-41.
The Tribe luckily pushed through American’s scoring streak in the last eight minutes of the half. Two threes, four two-point field goals and a free throw was not enough from the Eagles to catch up to the Tribe. Five free throws and two layups, from Case and Williams, held the Tribe steadfast to the finish as William and Mary pulled out its second home win 75-56.
“First half, Sean and Gabe each had one shot. We got a boatload more looks in the second half and a lot of that was just us running better offense and giving them an opportunity to do what they do really well. So, very pleased with how we played and happy to get the win tonight,” Fischer said.
Next, the Tribe will face off against Omaha in the first round of the Air Force Classic on Thursday, Nov. 16 at the Clune Arena in Air Force Academy, Co.