A valiant second-half rally came up short as the William and Mary men’s basketball team fell at No. 19 North Carolina, 86-64, on Tuesday night. The Tribe sliced a 25-point deficit to as little as nine following a Daniel Dixon 3-pointer with six minutes remaining, but the Tar Heels found enough answers down the stretch to pick up the win. W&M wrapped up the nonconference slate at 6-5, while the Tar Heels improved to 10-3 with their fourth straight victory.
Dixon led all scorers with a career-high 20 points on 7-of-13 shooting, including a 4-of-8 effort from 3-point range. Senior guard Marcus Thornton added 17 points, while freshman Greg Malinowskichipped in nine points off the bench. Junior Terry Tarpey led the Tribe with nine rebounds and three assists.
After a 3-pointer stretched the Tar Heel lead to 25 in the opening minutes of the second half, the Green and Gold began an impressive rally, outscoring UNC 32-16 over a 13-minute stretch to cut the margin to single digits. In the process, a tame Carolina-clad crowd grew to a loud, raucous fever pitch as W&M cut into the Tar Heel advantage.
W&M began the run by scoring scored eight straight points. Junior Sean Sheldon scored on an offensive putback, before sophomore Omar Prewitt and Dixon converted on back-to-back conventional 3-point plays to cut the defict to 17. Following 1-of-2 from the charity stripe for the Tar Heels, Dixon knocked down a 3-pointer from the top of the key to close W&M within 53-38 with 16:44 left.
Malinowski scored five straight for the Tribe, including a 3-pointer from the right side to keep the deficit at 15. A pair of Thornton free throws at the 13:18 mark closed the gap to 58-45.
After a Marcus Paige 3-pointer provided UNC with a brief 16-point cushion, Malinowski scored on an offensive putback to cut the margin to 61-47. The Tribe had a chance to draw close, but Sheldon was whistled for what appeared to be an offensive foul. After the officials convened, the call was reversed to a block on UNC and then Tar Heel head coach roy williams was given a technical foul for leaving the coaching box for the second time in the half. Thornton hit a pair of free throws out of the media timeout to close the gap to 61-49 with just over 11 minutes remaining.
Another Paige triple pushed the home lead back to 16, but Dixon answered by scoring nine of the game’s next 11 points, including six straight, to draw W&M within single digits. He knocked down a floater and followed with a 3-pointer from the right side. After a Brice Johnson dunk, Dixon drilled a triple from the top of the key with 6:02 remaining to close the Green and Gold within 68-59.
Paige responded for UNC with five straight points, including a conventional 3-point play. W&M drew back within 11 at 73-62 on a patented Thornton step-back jumper, but UNC ripped off 13 straight points from Nathan Britt and J.P. Tokoto to put the game out of reach for good.
W&M finished the contest shooting 37.7 percent from the floor and were just 7-of-27 (25.9 percent) from 3-point range. The Tribe outscored North Carolina at the free throw line, connecting on 17-of-24 (70.8 percent) compared to just 16-of-23 (69.6 percent).
UNC became the first team to score more than 70 points against W&M this season, and was the first to shoot better than 50 percent from the field as well, connecting on 31-of-61 (50.8 percent). After entering the contest shooting just 29.3 percent from 3-point range as a team and averaging only 4.5 triples per game, the Tar Heels equaled a season-high with eight 3-pointers, shooting 40 percent from long range.
The Tar Heels scored the game’s first eight points, before the Tribe’s opening points just under two and a half minutes into the period on a Prewitt backdoor-cut dunk. Six straight UNC points, four from Theo Pinson, including a fastbreak dunk at the 13:02 mark, extended the Tar Heel lead to 20-4.
A Thornton 3-pointer with 6:34 left in the opening half, briefly cut the margin to 14, 36-22. The Tar Heels answered with a 13-2 run and led 49-27 at the half. UNC shot 65.6 percent (21-of-32) from the field in the opening 20 minutes.
Tokoto topped UNC with a double-double on 19 points and 10 rebounds. He was 7-of-10 from the floor. Paige added 14 points and six assists, while Britt chipped in 11 off the bench. Prewitt finished with seven points and four rebounds, while Sheldon had six points and five rebounds. Redshirt freshman guard Michael Schlotman contributed three points and two assists off the bench.
The Tribe returns to action when it opens Colonial Athletic Association play with the first of four games in eight days to start the league slate on Saturday. W&M welcomes to the College of Charleston to Williamsburg for a 2 p.m. tip in a game that will be televised regionally on Comcast SportsNet with Al Koken and Blaine Taylor on the call.
Fans can also listen in over the Tribe Radio Network with Jay Colley and Charlie Woollum on the call. The Tide 92.3 FM and 107.9 Bach FM are the flagship stations of the Tribe Radio Network and the audio feed can also be heard over the Web at TribeAthletics.com.