William and Mary tops Northeastern, moves into first in CAA

wm-logoIn front of a raucous crowd of over 5,000 and a national TV audience on NBC Sports Network, the William and Mary men’s basketball team started strong and closed stronger in dispatching CAA favorite Northeastern, 78-62, at Kaplan Arena on Saturday afternoon. The Tribe placed four players in double figures, received production up and down the line up and turned in impressive efforts on both ends of the floor. The Green and Gold moved into first place in the CAA along with Northeastern (14-7) at 6-2, while running its home-court winning streak to 11 games and improving to 12-7 overall.

Sophomore Omar Prewitt led the Tribe in scoring for the second straight contest, tallying 14 of his game-high 19 in the second half. He was 6-of-11 from the floor and added five rebounds, three assists, three blocked shots and three steals. Junior forward Sean Sheldon scored a career-high 15 points on 7-of-9 shooting, while fellow classmate Terry Tarpey nearly recorded another double-double with 15 points, eight rebounds, three assists and four steals. Senior guard Marcus Thornton chipped in 13 points and tied for team-high honors with three assists.

The Tribe led by 11 points at the half and the advantage remained there following a Prewitt free throw three minutes into the second frame. Northeastern put together a 13-4 run to narrow the gap to as little as two. In total, the Huskies hit eight of their first 11 shots in the second half.

A Quincy Ford old-fashion 3-point play sliced W&M lead to six, before Ford and Reggie Spencer answered a Prewitt basket on back-to-back buckets in the paint, closing to within 45-41 with 13:27 left. A Tom Schalk hook shot briefly pushed the W&M lead back to six, but David Walker and Ford converted on consecutive lay-ups to cut the deficit to two at the 12:44 mark.

The lead was still just two, 54-52, with 9:09 left, before freshman guard Oliver Tot and Tarpey sparked a quick seven-point spurt. Tot started things with a 3-pointer from the left wing to push the advantage back to five. Tarpey came up with steals on back-to-back possessions, resulting in Tribe points, including the play of the game. After a steal near midcourt, Tarpey missed a driving lay-up on the break, but Tot was there to throw down a thunderous putback dunk igniting the Gold-clade crowd and forcing a Northeastern timeout. On the ensuing possession, Tarpey ratted out another steal and was fouled on his extra effort. He knocked down both free throws to make it 61-52 with 7:46 left.

Northeastern would not go quietly as Ford scored six straight points to close the gap to three. He was fouled on a steal and fastbreak lay-up, adding the free throw for the conventional 3-point play. Two more Ford free throws narrowed it to 63-60 at the 5:23 mark.

From there it was all W&M as the Tribe finished the game on a 15-2 run to reclaim a spot atop the league standings. Prewitt provided a huge boost during the closing run, scoring nine of the Tribe’s 15 points over the final five minutes. The Tribe scored six straight points to push the lead to 69-60, before a Scott Eatherton putback for NU. W&M answered with the game’s final nine points, including seven from Prewitt, to cement the victory.

The Tribe defense came up big, especially down the stretch. After Northeastern closed within two points for the final time with nine minutes remaining, W&M held the Huskies to just 2-of-15 from the floor and 0-of-7 from 3-point range, while forcing five turnovers. Overall, W&M limited Northeastern to 40.7 percent (24-of-59) from the field and a just 2-of-20 (10 percent) from 3-point range. NU came into the game leading the CAA at 51.2 percent from the field and 45.9 percent from 3-point range in league games. The Tribe picked up a season-high 11 steals and blocked seven shots.

Offensively, W&M connected on 52.7 percent (29-of-55) from the field, eclipsing the 50-percent mark for the fifth time in its eight CAA games. W&M only hit six 3-pointers on the afternoon, but was 14-of-18 (77.8 percent) from the free throw line and outscored Northeastern in the paint, 42-40.

With an electric atmosphere, the Tribe roared out of the gates, scoring the game’s first six points. Sophomore Daniel Dixon started things with a 3-pointer from the left wing, before his steal turned into a Tarpey fast-break lay-up. The Tribe lead reached nine on a Prewitt 3-pointer at the 13:27 mark, but six straight NU points cut it to 17-14 just two and a half mintues later.

W&M responded with a 13-2 run to stretch its advantage to double-digits. Prewitt scored on a driving lay-up, before dishing to Tarpey for his second triple of the game. Back-to-back Sean Sheldon lay-ups extended the margin to 26-14 and forced a Northeastern timeout at the 8:30 mark.

After an NU bucket briefly stemmed the tide, W&M got two straight buckets from its seniors to push the lead to its largest of the opening 20 minutes. Thornton made a nifty driving lay-up, before finding Schalk for a lay-up with 5:51 left in the opening half to give W&M a 30-16 advantage.

Ford led Northeastern scoring 16 of his 17 points in the second half, while adding seven rebounds. Williams finished with 14 points, and Eatherton turned in a stat line of 12 points, seven rebounds, three assists and four blocked shots.

For W&M, Tot tied a career-high with five points, adding two rebounds and an assist off the bench. Dixon had five points, two rebounds, two assists, two blocked shots and two steals, while Schalk saw his first extensive minutes of the season, totaling four points, a rebound, a steal and an assist.

The Tribe continues its brief two-game homestand when it hosts Hofstra on Wednesday, Jan. 28. Tip-off is slated for 7 p.m. from Kaplan Arena. The contest will be streamed over the Web in HD on Tribe Athletics TV via TribeAthletics.com. Fans can also catch the action 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 broadcast will be available online at TribeAthletics.com.



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