William and Mary basketball wins third straight, downs Rice, 69-65

wm-logoThe William and Mary men’s basketball team won its third straight, downing Rice, 69-65, at Tudor Fieldhouse on Saturday night. The Tribe raced out to an early double-digit advantage and led by as many as 15 in the second half before holding off a late Owl rally in the road victory. The Green and Gold improved to 3-1 for the second time in the last three seasons, while Rice fell to 1-2.

Sophomore Omar Prewitt led three Tribe players in double figures with 17 points on 5-of-10 shooting, including 2-of-4 from 3-point range, and 5-of-7 from the free throw line to go along with five rebounds. Senior guard Marcus Thornton added 16 points and a career-high tying six assists, while junior forward Sean Sheldon had a career-high 11 points on 5-of-9 shooting along with six rebounds and three assists. Perhaps the most impressive stat line of the night came from junior Terry Tarpey who had eight points and added team-highs of eight rebounds and six assists compared to zero turnovers. He also blocked two shots and had two steals.

The Tribe quickly built a 12-point advantage, scoring 13 of the game’s first 14 points. Sophomore guard Daniel Dixon, like he did against Bluefield, started the scoring barrage, knocking down a 3-pointer from the right wing. After Rice went 1-of-2 from the charity stripe, W&M ripped off 10 straight points. Dixon and Tarpey each scored on easy lay-ups off nice passes from Prewitt and Sheldon, before Prewitt canned a triple from the right corner to force an Owl timeout. On the ensuing Tribe possession, Thornton made a nice pass to Sheldon, who scored, was fouled and converted the free throw. The old-fashion 3-point play put the Tribe on top 13-1 just under four minutes into the half.

Rice scored eight straight points, including back–to-back 3-pointers from Van Green and Seth Gearhart to narrow the Tribe lead to four at 13-9. Redshirt freshman Michael Schlotman knocked down a jumper with his foot on the line from the left corner to push the lead back to nine at 20-11 with 11:40 left. Rice answered with an 8-0 run to slice the margin to one. Bishop Mency provided the final five points of the spurt, including a 3-pointer to cut the W&M lead to 20-19.

Another Mency 3-point from the left side at the 8:07 mark gave the Owls their first and only lead of the game at 24-23. Thornton took over in the final six minutes of the half to send W&M to the locker room with an eight-point lead. W&M regained the lead as Thornton slashed to the hoop for two, before the Tribe scored nine of the half’s final 11 points.

Leading 29-28, Thornton had a hand in three straight Tribe buckets. He sandwiched assists to Sheldon and freshman Greg Malinowski for lay-ups around a step-back jumper. After a Rice bucket cut the margin to five, Thornton knocked down a 3-pointer from the left wing just before the halftime horn to give W&M a 38-30 advantage into the locker room.

The Owls cut the deficit to six on a Max Guercy lay-up early in the second half, but W&M scored six straight points to push the lead to 12. Thornton found Tarpey for a fast-break lay-up, before feeding ahead to Prewitt for a dunk in transition. The slam gave W&M a 44-32 lead with 14:20 remaining.

The Tribe kept the lead in double digits for the majority of the second half. The margin reached 15 for the first time on a pair of Thornton free throws at the 9:28 mark. W&M maintained that 15-point advantage behind a number of impressive plays. Sheldon scored on a nice drive to the basket from the free line to push the margin back to 15 with eight minute left. After Rice closed to 12 points, Prewitt hit a driving floater in the lane, was fouled and converted the conventional 3-point play at the 4:14 mark.

Thornton answered a Rice triple at the 2:33 mark with one of his own at the 2:33 mark and then his free throw with nearly two minutes remaining answered a freebie from the Owls to give W&M a 64-49 lead. Rice would not go quietly mounting a final push by scoring 12 straight points to pull within three points. Back-to-back heavily-contested 3-pointers from Dan Peera cut the margin to 64-61 with 18 second remaining.

W&M pulled out the win hitting 5-of-6 from the free throw line over the final 20 seconds and coming up with a massive defensive stop. After Prewitt hit 1-of-2 from the charity with 16 seconds remaining, Tarpey came up with a steal, was fouled and hit both free throws to put the game out of reach.

The Tribe finished the game shooting 47.9 percent (23-of-48) from the floor, including a 53.6 percent (15-of-28) effort in the first half. W&M dished out 18 assists on 23 made field goals and connected on 17-of-24 (70.8 percent) from the free throw line. Dixon finished with eight points on 3-of-5 from the floor and 2-of-4 from 3-point range, while Malinowski chipped in five points off the bench.

Rice shot 42.9 percent (21-of-49) from the floor and connected on 9-of-25 (36 percent) from 3-point range. The Owls hit on 73.7 percent (14-of-19) from the charity stripe and held a 31-29 advantage on the glass. Gearhart led Rice with 14 points, while Mency added 13 off the bench. Marcus Jackson and Green finished with 10 points apiece.

The Tribe returns to Kaplan Arena on Tuesday, Nov. 25, against Western Illinois. The game carries a 7 p.m. tip and will be the fourth contest for the Green and Gold in an eight-day stretch. The live HD stream will be available for FREE on TribeAthletics.com via Tribe Athletics TV. 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. The audio feed will also be available on TribeAthletics.com.

uva basketball team of destiny
Team of Destiny: Inside Virginia Basketball’s Run to the 2019 National Championship, by Jerry Ratcliffe and Chris Graham, is available for $25.


The book, with additional reporting by Zach Pereles, Scott Ratcliffe and Scott German, will take you from the aftermath of the stunning first-round loss to UMBC in 2018, and how coach Tony Bennett and his team used that loss as the source of strength, through to the ACC regular-season championship, the run to the Final Four, and the thrilling overtime win over Texas Tech to win the 2019 national title, the first in school history.
 
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