(ISN) – WILMINGTON, N.C. – A Tom Schalk offensive rebound and putback gave the William and Mary men’s basketball team the lead for good with just 1:39 left, and the Tribe gutted out a 56-53 win at UNCW before a pack house at Trask Coliseum on Saturday night.
The Tribe turned in a gritty defensive effort limiting UNCW to just 28.8 percent from the field to overcome an off-shooting night from 3-point range and a bevy of turnovers in the process. With the victory, the Tribe moved back into sole possession of first place in the CAA standings improving to 9-3 in league play and 15-8 overall, while UNCW fell to 13-10 on the year and 8-4 in CAA action.
The senior duo of guard Marcus Thornton and Schalk led the way for the Green and Gold scoring 31 of the Tribe’s 56 points. Thornton finished with a game-high 18 points on 6-of-11 shooting and 6-of-8 from the free throw line. He pushed his career total to 1,955 points, moving past former CAA Players of the Year Eric Maynor (VCU) and George Evans (Mason) into 14th on the CAA’s all-time scoring list. Schalk tallied a career-high 13 points off the bench, hitting on 5-of-7 from the field and a perfect 3-of-3 from the free throw line. He also added five rebounds, a blocked shot and a steal in 20 minutes of action.
Trailing 44-40 with 8:39 left, the Tribe scored seven straight points to surge in front of the Seahawks. Schalk knocked down a pair of free throw out of the under eight-minute media timeout, before his offensive putback at the seven-minute mark put the Tribe on top by one. On the ensuing UNCW possession, junior Terry Tarpey pulled down a defensive rebound and raced the other way for a fast-break lay-up to extend the Tribe lead to 47-44 with 6:40 remaining and force a UNCW timeout.
Sophomore Daniel Dixon answered a Jordon Talley bucket with a 3-pointer from the top of the key, the Tribe’s lone 3-pointer on the night, to give W&M its largest lead at 50-46 with 5:52 remaining. Craig Ponder scored five straight points for UNCW, including a 3-pointer off sequence of three offensive rebounds to put the homeside back in front, 51-50, at the 4:22 mark.
W&M briefly retook the lead on a backdoor cut lay-up from Thornton, but UNCW answered with a twisting basket in the lane from Freddie Jackson to hold a 53-52 advantage with two and a half minutes left. Cue Schalk who pulled down an offensive rebound in traffic off a missed Dixon 3-pointer and stuck it back, putting the Tribe in front for good at 54-53 at the 1:39 mark.
It looked like UNCW was going to regain the lead with under 30 seconds remaining, but Thornton came up with a huge game-saving defensive play. After a missed Tribe jumper, the Seahawks pulled down the rebound and quickly went the other way. Jackson drove to the hoop for a fastbreak lay-up, but Thornton charged in front and blocked Jackson’s attempt. The ball hit off Jackson and out of bounds, giving W&M possession with 24.4 seconds left.
The Seahawks were forced to foul and eventually sent Thornton to the line, and the senior hit both free throws with 12.4 ticks left to extend the Tribe lead to 56-53. Talley’s 3-point attempt at the buzzer hit off the back iron, and the Green and Gold celebrated moving into sole possession of first place in the CAA.
W&M finished the game shooting 50 percent (22-of-44) from the floor, but were just 1-of-11 from 3-point range after entering the game ranked sixth in the country at 41 percent. The Tribe hit 11-of-14 (78.6 percent) from the charity stripe. Defensively, the Tribe limited the Seahawks to just 28.8 percent (19-of-66) from the field and only 3-of-19 (15.8 percent) from 3-point range. W&M turned the ball over 20 times on the night, but just four times in the second half, and UNCW converted those miscues into 16 points. The Seahawks also recorded 22 offensive rebounds, holding a 40-34 advantage on the glass and outscoring W&M 16-6 on second-chance points.
The game started in back-and-forth fashion with the Seahawks taking an early 9-4 lead following five straight points on a Ponder 3-pointer and an Addison Spruill jumper just over four minutes into the contest. The Tribe pulled even at 11 on a Thornton free throw at the 10:25 mark.
A Schalk conventional 3-point play put W&M on top, 18-17. The Green and Gold took its largest lead of the opening 20 minutes at 23-19 following a pair of technical foul free throws from Thornton at the 3:51 mark. A near capacity crowd at Trask Coliseum was given the technical after a third object was throw onto the court in a five-minute first-half span.
UNCW responded after the technical with 10 straight points to take its largest lead at 29-23. Five of those 10 points came via the free throw line, and Ponder scored four during the stretch, including a 3-pointer. A pair of Dylan Sherwood free throws with 1:39 left extended the Seahawks’ cushion to six points.
The Tribe scored the final three points of the opening 20 minutes, including a two-handed dunk from Tarpey in the closing seconds. Despite the Tribe holding UNCW to just 25.7 percent (9-of-35) from the field in the first half, the Seahawks led 29-26 at the intermission thanks in large part to forcing 16 W&M turnovers, resulting in a 14-4 advantage in points off turnovers.
Ponder led UNCW with 14 points, including a 3-of-6 effort from 3-point range, while Jackson added 12. Credrick Williams pulled down a game-high 12 rebounds, and Spruill, who scored 33 points in the last meeting with W&M, had just eight points on 4-of-13 shooting.
Tarpey and junior Sean Sheldon, who returned to the starting lineup for the first time in three games after being limited with an injury, finished with eight points each. Sheldon was 4-of-5 from the field and added three rebounds, while Tarpey topped the Tribe for the 14th straight game with nine rebounds. Sophomore Omar Prewitt led the Green and Gold with four assists and along with Tarpey added two blocked shots each.
The Tribe returns home for two games next week in Kaplan Arena. The Green and Gold welcomes Elon to Williamsburg on Wednesday, Feb. 11, for a 7 p.m. tip. The game will be streamed for FREE in HD on Tribe Athletics TV via TribeAthletics.com. Fans can also listen in 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 it will be broadcast on line at TribeAthletics.com.
On Saturday, Feb. 14, the Tribe will host ‘I HEART TRIBE HOOPS’ Day as W&M faces Delaware in a game that will be telvised nationally on the NBC Sports Network. Tribe fans are ask to #WearGold and help us #PacktheKap for the Valentine’s Day game. There will be a number of promotions for fans, including a t-shirt and rally towel giveaway as well as a Mad Minute promo. Call the Tribe Ticket Office at (757) 221-3340 for tickets and more information on the promotions on Valentine’s Day.
On Monday night, the Chesapeake Bank Tony Shaver Show returns to Paul’s Deli, 761 Scotland Street, in Williamsburg. The Show kicks off at 7 p.m. and will be aired on the Tribe Radio Network and TribeAthletics.com. The Tide 92.3 FM and 107.9 Bach FM are the flagship stations of the Tribe Radio Network. Come out or tune in to hear Coach Shaver’s thoughts on the first-place Tribe, its recent three-game road swing and its upcoming home games with Elon and Delaware.