William & Mary pulls away late, knocks off Liberty, 79-70
A driving layup by Caleb Homesley tied the game at 66-66 with 3:02 left to play in the contest. However, William & Mary hit 6-of-9 free throws down the stretch and scored 13 of the game’s final 17 points to secure the nine-point victory.
With the win, William & Mary moves to 3-2 on the season, Liberty sees its two-game winning streak come to an end and has its record leveled at 3-3 on the year.
The Tribe finished the game 28-of-41 from the free throw line and outrebounded the Flames, 43-25. William & Mary’s 18-rebound edge allowed the home team to outscore Liberty 28-18 in the paint and 12-0 in second chance points.
For the fourth time this season, Liberty connected on double-digit three-pointers as the Flames sank 10-of-26 shots from behind the arc. The Flames finished the non-conference tilt 18-of-24 from the charity stripe, including 16-of-21 during the second half.
William & Mary’s Omar Prewitt led all scorers in the game with 23 points. The senior was 6-of-12 from the field, including 2-of-5 from long range, and 9-of-12 from the line. Jack Whitman followed with 16 points, aided by 8-of-11 shooting from the line, and led the team with nine boards.
Liberty placed four players in double figures, led by John Dawson’s 15 points. The senior finished the game hitting 5-of-8 from the field, while dishing out a season-best seven assists and recording a career-high five blocks.
Georgie Pacheco-Ortiz followed with a season-best 13 points, while Homesley added 12 and Ryan Kemrite had 10 points. Kemrite and Pacheco-Ortiz finished with four rebounds each.
The Flames opened the game on a 12-4 run after Dawson hit one of his two treys from the wing and a layup at 14:24.
The Tribe started to claw their way back into the game with back-to-back three-pointers, the second by Connor Burchfield in front of Liberty’s bench at 11:22 to pull the home team within two points, 12-10.
The Flames scored six of the game’s next eight points, taking an 18-12 lead following a missed dunk by Whitman and a three-pointer from Pacheco-Ortiz at 8:49.
Liberty started to get into foul trouble during the final eight minutes of the first half, allowing William & Mary to slowly turn its deficit into a five-point lead at the break.
Prewitt started a 9-0 run for the Tribe at 4:25 with a three-pointer from the baseline and 20 seconds later stole the ball away from Pacheco-Ortiz to turn the giveaway into a fast break layup.
The Tribe sank 8-of-10 shots from the free throw line during the last eight minutes and pushed its lead to five points, 34-29, on a layup by Nathan Knight with 35 seconds remaining.
Liberty shot 45.8 percent from the floor during the opening 20 minutes, hitting 11-of-24 shot attempts. Dawson paced the Flames with 10 points.
William & Mary overcame a 35.5 first-half shooting percentage (11-of-31) to hold a five-point lead thanks to hitting four three-pointers and 8-of-10 from the line. Prewitt paced the home team with nine first-half points.
The Tribe slowly pushed its lead to 10 points during the first 10-plus minutes of the second half, opening up a 58-48 lead on Whitman’s old-fashion three-point play at 9:16.
The Flames upped their pressure defense, holding William & Mary without a field goal for a span of nearly five minutes (4:56). After Pacheco-Ortiz sank three of four from the line and Liberty forced a turnover following a shot clock violation, Homesley connected on a layup at the 3:02 mark to knot the score at 66-66.
William & Mary followed with two free throws from Daniel Dixon at 2:35, shortly before an offensive foul call on Dawson. Prewitt found David Cohn open for a three-pointer, pushing the Tribe’s lead back to five and ending Liberty’s attempt at a comeback win.
The Flames return to action on Tuesday when they host Central Penn to close out play in the Indiana Classic. Tipoff from the Vines Center is set for 7 p.m.