William and Mary downs Wofford, 66-62

wm-logoThe William and Mary men’s basketball shot a season-high 65.6 percent from the floor and received a standout performance from senior guard Marcus Thornton in downing defending Southern Conference Champion Wofford, 66-62, on Saturday afternoon at Kaplan Arena. The Tribe won its fifth straight game to improve to 5-1 on the year for the first time since 1992-93, while Wofford, who had won five straight entering the contest, fell to 5-2 on the season.
Thornton scored a season-high 25 points on an efficient 7-of-10 shooting from the floor. He was 2-of-4 from 3-point range and 9-of-11 from the free throw line. Sophomore Omar Prewitt added 13 points on 5-of-7 shooting, while junior forward Sean Sheldon chipped in 10 points and a team-high six rebounds. Fellow classmate Terry Tarpey continued to stuff the stat sheet finishing with eight points, six rebounds, two assists, four blocked shots and two steals.
W&M wasted little time jumping out to a double-digit lead. The Tribe hit five of its first six shots from the field, including 3-of-4 from 3-point range, while holding Wofford scoreless for nearly five minutes to start the tilt. Tarpey started things with a triple from the right wing, before Thornton scored eight of the Tribe’s next nine points, including a pair of 3-pointers. Prewitt’s lay-up at the 15:43 mark gave W&M a 14-0 advantage and forced a Wofford timeout.
The teams traded spurts, before W&M took its largest lead of the contest. Wofford drew within 14-7 as Lee Skinner capped a 7-0 Terrier run with a jumper at 13:10 mark. The Tribe answered by scoring 10 straight points in opening up at 17-point cushion. Prewitt and redshirt freshman Jack Whitman each converted lay-ups, before Sheldon notched old-fashion 3-point play at the 11:02 mark put the Tribe back on top by 14. Thornton capped the run as he drove to the hoop converted and was fouled. His free throw with 9:51 remaining in the opening half pushed the lead to 24-7.
Wofford drew within 27-17 at the 6:02 mark. Karl Cochran pulled down a defensive rebound and started the break for the Terriers, finding Eric Garcia who scored on a lay-up and was fouled. He completed the conventional 3-point play to cut the gap to 10.
The Green and Gold advantage jumped back to 15 following a Tarpey old-fashion 3-point play at the 3:39 mark. The Terriers clawed their way back though as Garcia’s two free throws with 30 seconds remaining in the half narrowed the margin to 10-points, 38-28, at the break.
W&M opened the second frame with 3-pointers from sophomore Daniel Dixon and Prewitt as each found the other from the long-range buckets. Prewitt triple at the 17:34 mark gave W&M a 44-30 advantage.
Wofford pulled within single digits for the first time since the opening minutes mid-way through the second half. A conventional 3-point play from Skinner with 10:53 left cut the Tribe cushion to 51-44.
The Green and Gold responded with six straight points in pushing the advantage back to double figures. Dixon knocked down a jumper off the dribble, before Thornton drove to the hoop for two. Prewitt found Sheldon with a threading pass, and the Tribe junior converted the lay-up to push the advantage to 59-46 with 7:02 left.
The Terriers, who have won three of the last five Southern Conference Championships and return virtually everyone from last season’s NCAA Tournament team, would not go quietly. Wofford put together a 13-2 run to draw within its closest margin since the opening tip.
Spencer Collins sparked the run, scoring nine of the Terriers’ 13 points. He started things with five straight, including a steal and fast-break conventional 3-point play. After Thornton hit a pair of free throws for the Tribe, the visitors scored eight straight. Skinner knocked down two from the charity stripe, before a pair of Collins’ lay-ups cut the gap to 61-57 with 4:11 remaining. Cameron Jackson’s free throws off an offensive rebound sliced it to two with 2:55 left.
On the ensuing Tribe possession, Prewitt came up with a big play. The Mt. Sterling, Ky., native drove to the hoop, spun middle and hit a leaner in the lane to push the lead back to four, 63-59, with two and a half minutes left.
The Tribe lead was five after Sheldon went 1-of-2 from the charity stripe at the 1:50 mark. With less than a minutes remaining, it looked as though the Tribe had forced the game-ending steal on the defensive end. Tarpey knocked the ball away from Skinner and dove to the floor. The Tribe junior attempted to call timeout, but lost the ball before it was granted. It eventually ended up in the hands of Cochran, and he found an open Garcia for a 3-pointer to cut the Tribe lead to 64-62 with 43 seconds remaining.
W&M worked the clock to 15 seconds, before Cochran fouled Thornton while trying to deny him the basketball. The Tribe senior hit 1-of-2 from the charity stripe to extend the lead to three. Wofford had one final chance to tie the game, but Cochran’s high-arcing 3-pointer from the right wing over a contesting Sheldon hit off the back of the rim and over the backboard, giving W&M possession. Prewitt put the game out of reach, hitting 1-of-2 from the free throw line with 3.7 seconds remaining to cement the Tribe’s 66-62 victory.
The Tribe finished the game shooting 65.6 percent (21-of-32) from the field, which was the seventh-best single-game percentage in school history. The Green and Gold connected on 5-of-11 from 3-point range (45.5 percent) and 19-of-31 (61.3 percent) from the free throw line. W&M outrebounded Wofford, 23-22.

The Terriers shot 46.7 percent (21-of-45) from the field and were 15-of-19 (78.9 percent) from the free throw line. Wofford entered the game ranked 10th nationally at nearly 46 percent from 3-point range, but W&M held the visitors to 35.7 percent (5-of-14) from distance.

Collins led Wofford with 18 points on 7-of-11 from the field. Garcia and Skinner each added 13 points. The Terriers’ leading scorer Karl Cochran, who entered the contest scoring 17.5 points per game, finished with just eight points on 3-of-9 shooting but did pull down a game-high nine rebounds.
The Tribe wrapped up a perfect 4-0 month of November at home, the 18th undefeated home November in program history. The Green and Gold will hit the road to open December when it travels up Interstate 64 to face rival Richmond on Wednesday night. The game carries at 7 p.m. tip from the Robbins Center and will be televised regionally on Comcast SportsNet Plus.

Tribe fans can listen to the broadcast 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 can be heard on TribeAthletics.com as well.
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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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