William & Mary (7-6, 1-1 CAA) is now two games into the CAA schedule, and boy has it been a wild start. After a complete and utter collapse at Northeastern, the Green and Gold headed to Hofstra. This game witnessed the Tribe pull out an overtime victory by way of an insane game-ending, beyond NBA range, last-second three point swish from none other than Daniel Dixon. Yes, you read that correctly.
If W&M fans were told at the beginning of the year that the Tribe would split the 4 game road series against Rhode Island (previously ranked), ODU, Northeastern, and Hofstra, most would be happy with that–and that’s exactly what happened. And although the Tribe lost its first CAA game of the season, there is plenty more basketball to be played. The Tribe is hungry. We like our chances.
CAA Game Recaps
Following a big win over in-state rival ODU, the Tribe traveled to Northeastern to open up CAA play. Northeastern has played much better than most expected this season (only picked to finish #7 in preseason CAA polls), already picking up big time wins on the road over perennial powerhouses Michigan State and UConn. The Tribe knew this was not going to be an easy test, and Northeastern proved to be a very formidable foe.
Led by the leading scorer in the CAA TJ Williams and graduate transfer Alex Murphy (with the two combining for 40 points), Northeastern shot an insane 57.1% from the floor including 50% from 3. The Huskies were paced by a 21-2 run in the first half that extended their lead to 31 points, a lead that put the game far out of reach for the Tribe. This contest was difficult to watch from the beginning, as some Tribe fans began to lament a potential sub-.500 season.
Oh how quickly a blowout loss can be forgotten. What a game this was from the very beginning. With the 2nd and 3rd highest scoring teams in the CAA meeting head to head, it was sure to be a high scoring affair, and this one did not disappoint. Much like in the Northeastern game, W&M’s opponent, Hofstra, shot lights out in the first half (60.3%). The Pride built a 9 point lead after a 21-4 run with 7 minutes remaining in the first half. But the Tribe would fight back, cutting the Hofstra lead to 50-44 at the the end of the first.
The Green and Gold came out of halftime guns blazing. W&M erased the deficit and eventually took the lead. However, the game would go back and forth for the rest of the second half, with the two teams exchanging leads with seemingly every shot. With 30 seconds to go in the contest, Hofstra guard Deron Powers drove and made a strong layup to knot the score at 86-86. William & Mary would call a timeout, setting up a play for the hottest player on the team: Daniel Dixon. However, Dixon would miss a 3-point shot at the buzzer, sending the game to Overtime.
In OT, Hofstra shot just 1/5 (20%). The Tribe, on the other hand, shot 4/10 (40%). What doomed Hofstra were two missed free throws by none other than guard Justin Wright-Foreman, who actually tore up W&M in this one, finishing with 30 points. To make things worse for Hofstra, Wright-Foreman is a 77.1% free throw shooter. But hey, we’ll take it. Following his two misses, William & Mary was given the ball with 10 seconds left. Wright-Foreman smartly fouled the Tribe with 1.2 seconds to go, forcing the Tribe to inbound and get a quick shot off for the win. Tribe faithful were staring the sight of an 0-2 CAA record right in the face. Following an inevitable timeout, in came “Hofstra-Killer” Daniel Dixon.
With just 1.2 seconds to go on the shot clock, David Cohn dished it to Dixon. Dixon, poised, shot an beyond-NBA range three point shot that beat the buzzer and gave the Tribe a 95-93 victory in the final second of overtime. By far the most exciting game of the season for William & Mary, and perhaps its best from top to bottom. Check out the video capturing the moment below. Speechless.
Fun Fact: Senior Daniel Dixon has had three buzzer beating game winning shots in his career, including two against the Hofstra Pride. Who remembers the 2015 CAA Tournament shot for the win? Roll Damn Tribe.
Spotlight: Daniel Dixon
What we love most about Daniel’s play right now is how he has responded to adversity. Head Coach Tony Shaver did not start Dixon for 4 games after the final exam break due to his less than stellar play up to that point. How did Dixon respond? By becoming the team’s leading point scorer off the bench against Rhode Island and ODU. Not to mention, in the ODU game, Dixon scored a career high 36 points, which accounted for 55% of the Tribe’s offense that day, and a W&M victory. What more can a coach ask for?
Following the ODU game, Head Coach Tony Shaver re-inserted Dixon into the starting lineup. Since then, he has gone on to lead the Tribe in scoring over those two games against Northeastern (19) and Hofstra (25). In fact, he has led the Tribe in scoring over the last four games, averaging 23.5 points per contest over that stretch. Dixon now leads the team in scoring, averaging 15.4 points per game. Once Omar Prewitt heats back up, there is no telling what this team can do.
Because of his stellar play, Dixon was named CAA Player of the Week immediately before the Hofstra game. And of course, we all know what he did to Hofstra. We love the way Dixon has played as of late, and we hope he continues playing like this for the rest of the season.
Around the CAA
Huh? After going 2-11 in OOC play, JMU is now 2-0 in the CAA with wins over Drexel and Towson (who was projected to finish 2nd in the CAA). It is no surprise that UNCW and Charleston sit at 2-0, as they appear to be the class of the CAA this season. After its next two games at home, William & Mary will travel to play Charleston and UNCW in back to back games; that will prove to us just how good this Tribe team is. Whichever way you slice it, there has already been plenty of drama in the CAA in the early going. It figures to be another fun and crazy year in the CAA! We’ll have to wait and see.
Next up for the
William and Mary has two home games against Elon and Drexel before traveling to play UNCW and Charleston. Given the strength of Charleston and UNCW, these next two games are almost must-win scenarios for the Tribe. If they can win their next two, and split against UNCW and Charleston on the road, they will be sitting pretty at 4-2 in the CAA.