William and Mary basketball edges Howard, 56-49

wm-logoA strong first half, including a standout defensive effort, propelled the William and Mary men’s basketball team to a 56-49 win over Howard in the Tribe’s home opener at Kaplan Arena on Tuesday night. The Green and Gold limited the Bison to just 20 percent shooting in the opening 20 minutes in racing out to a 33-16 halftime advantage. The Tribe evened its season mark at 1-1, while Howard dropped to 1-2.
Senior guard Marcus Thornton led a balanced W&M attack with 14 points. After missing the Tribe’s season opener at Florida, junior Terry Tarpey returned to the lineup and turned in an impressive stat line of seven points, 12 rebounds and seven assists with the latter two being career bests. Sophomore Omar Prewitt added 12 points on 4-of-7 from 3-point range, while dishing out three assists. Defensively, the 49 points the Tribe allowed were the fewest since the Green and Gold held Northeastern to 45 during the 2010 CAA semifinals.
W&M trailed Howard, 5-3, early following a 3-pointer from the Bison’s Damon Collins. The Tribe proceeded to rip off a 20-2 run, sandwiching a pair of of spurts around a Howard basket, to seize control. After Prewitt opened the home team’s scoring with back-to-back 3-pointers, Thornton and freshman Greg Malinowski added triples of their own as part of nine straight points, pushing the W&M lead to 12-5 and forcing a Howard timeout at the 11:55 mark.
A Tyler Stone putback narrowed the gap momentarily back to five points, before W&M scored 11 straight points, extending the cushion to 16 and forcing another Bison timeout. Four different Tribe players scored during the stretch, which culminated in Tarpey finding Thornton for an emphatic two-hand dunk. The fast-break slam pushed the lead to 23-7 at the 8:31 mark.
The margin remained 16 following a conventional 3-point play from Tarpey with 2:36 off a look-ahead pass from sophomore Daniel Dixon. After a pair of James Miller free throws narrowed the gap to 14, Dixon banked in a 3-pointer from the right wing just before the halftime horn, sending the Tribe to the locker room with a 33-16 advantage.
In the opening 20 minutes, the W&M defense mauled Howard, limiting the visitors to just 20 percent (5-of-25) shooting from the floor, including a 2-of-10 effort from 3-point range. The Green and Gold also forced the visitors into 11 first-half turnovers, converting those miscues into 11 points.
Prewitt started the second half the same way he did the first, canning a 3-pointer from the right wing, increasing W&M’s advantage to its largest at 20. Howard began to slowly chip away at the Green and Gold lead, thanks in large part of the play of James Daniel.
He scored seven points as part of a 9-2 Howard run, cutting the margin to 13, 42-29, with 15:41 remaining in the game. The Bison pulled within single digits at 45-36 for the first time since the early stages of the game on a Daniel steal and fast-break lay-up. Another Daniel’s basket off a Howard steal by James Carlton slashed the Tribe lead to seven with 8:25 left.
W&M answered with back-to-back buckets from junior forward Sean Sheldon. Tarpey found Sheldon for the first lay-up of the sequence, before his steal, led to a threading pass on the break by Thornton for another easy lay-up from the Traverse City, Mich., native. The second Sheldon bucket extended the lead back to double-digits at 51-40 with 6:45 remaining.
Howard would not go quietly though as Daniel hit his third 3-pointer of the game at the 4:41 mark, before finding Miller for a lay-up to cut the gap to 51-45. The Bison drew within five points, 54-49, on a pair of Daniel free throws with just over a minute remaining, but the Tribe defense came up with a big defensive stop in the final minute. Thornton hit two from the charity stripe, part of his 5-of-6 effort from the line, with just 19 seconds remaining to provide the final margin.
In the second 20 minutes, Daniel scored 16 of his game-high 23 points, hitting 6-of-12 from the field in the second frame to fuel the Bison’s comeback attempt. Miller finished with eight points for Howard, while Carlton added six points and eight rebounds. After shooting 52 percent in the second half, the Bison still connected on just 36 percent (18-of-50) from the field overall and were just 4-of-16 (25 percent) from 3-point range.
For the game, W&M shot 41.7 percent (20-of-48) from the floor, including 8-of-21 (38.1 percent) from 3-point range. The Tribe did a nice job of sharing the basketball, finishing with 16 assists on its 20 made field goals. Sheldon chipped in eight points, three rebounds and two blocked shots, while redshirt freshman Jack Whitman added six points, including a thunderous second-half dunk, to go along with two rebounds off the bench.
The Tribe continues its stretch of three games in five days on Thursday, Nov. 20, when it hosts Bluefield College. The game carries at 7 p.m. tip and will be available for FREE in High Definition on TribeAthletics.com via Tribe Athletics TV. Fans can also listen to the broadcast on the Tribe Radio Network with Jay Colley and Charlie Woollum on the call. The Tide 92.3 FM is the flagship station of the Tribe Radio Network and the audio feed can also be heard at TribeAthletics.com.

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