William & Mary (9-9, 3-4 CAA), now 7 games into the season, has already had its fair share of highs and lows. The Tribe’s four CAA losses are to teams that are a combined 24-8 in league play. But the story so far this year has been the Green and Gold’s away record, which currently stands at an abysmal 2-9.
In CAA play, the Tribe is 1-4 on the road, losing by an average of 16 points in their 4 losses. We’re going to go out on a limb and say that is not good. The Tribe will need to figure out how to win on the road if the team wants to have any shot of moving up in the standings this season. However, despite recent woes, there have undoubtedly been some bright spots.
Despite the awful road record, William & Mary remains undefeated at home with a sparkling 7-0 record. Additionally, the Tribe has already played the top-3 teams CAA teams on the road (UNCW, Charleston, Northeastern), which means that the rematches against all three of these teams will take place within the friendly confines of Kaplan Arena. If W&M can continue its home dominance, and if it can start beating lesser teams on the road, then there is no reason that the Green and Gold shouldn’t climb in the standings by the end of the regular season. Let’s not forget, this team was picked to finish 3rd in the CAA. With talent from top to bottom, it’s safe to say that this team can go on a run at any point in the season.
CAA Game Recaps
(Win, 9-8): William & Mary 73, JMU 72
Wow. What a game this was. It took all the way up to the final second of the game and a video review for the Tribe to down in-state rival JMU, winning by a razor-thin margin, 73-72. This game truly was back and forth from the very beginning, as the game was tied 11 different times, with the lead changing hands 17 times.
The first half was fairly even until JMU jumped out to a 9 point lead (30-21) with 4:30 left. William & Mary would respond by going on an 10-0 run to take the lead 31-30 with 2:22 left in the half. However, as has frequently been the case this year, the Green and Gold faltered toward the end the first half, as JMU went on a 7-2 run to take a 37-33 lead into half. The story of the first half was the domination inside by JMU, who outscored the Tribe 22-12 in the paint. JMU also forced 11 first-half turnovers, outscoring the Tribe 15-2 off turnovers alone in the first half.
In the second, the Tribe would continue to cut at the lead over the first five minutes, eventually taking a 44-43 lead on a 3-pointer by an emerging Paul Rowley with 14:55 left in the game. For the remainder of the contest, neither team would lead by more than 4 points. It was constant action, with answers consistently coming from both teams. The lead changed 11 times over the final 15 minutes. You really had no idea who would come out on top until the very end.
With the game tied, JMU would foul W&M senior captain Daniel Dixon with 7 seconds left, shooting over 90% from the line. However, Dixon connected on just one of his two free throws, giving the Tribe a narrow 73-72 lead, with 7 seconds still on the clock for JMU to work with. Following a timeout from each team, the anticipation reached a high in Kaplan Arena.
The Dukes ran down the court and actually set up a fairly good look for Ramone Snowden, who missed a layup off the glass. In a frenzy, JMU Senior Yohanny Dalembert picked the ball up and put in what looked to be the game winner at the buzzer. The glass was red, the ball was swished, and the Dukes were celebrating. However, the play immediately went to video review, where the refs would rule that Dalembert’s made shot didn’t leave his hands until after the buzzer had sounded, sealing the victory for the Tribe. Whew, that was a close one.
The story of the game was scoring coming off the bench for W&M. The team finished with 28 bench points, led by a career high 14 points from Paul Rowley. Daniel Dixon finished with 18 points and 7 rebounds to lead the Tribe.
(Loss, 9-9): Elon 71, William and Mary 62
Ugh. After an exhilarating win over JMU just two nights before, you would think the Tribe would be fired up for this one. Especially since Northeastern lot earlier in the day, a win in North Carolina would have been huge for this William & Mary team in terms of the overall standings.
After Elon opened up the game on a 10-5 run, the Tribe would use a 12-0 run to grab a 17-10 lead with 12 minutes left in the first half. The lead would increase to as much as 11 points with 1:45 left in the first, but Elon, not going away, would cut the lead to 30-22 at half. Neither team shot very well, as the Green and Gold shot just 30.2% in the first frame, and Elon followed suit with a lowly 22.6%. Despite Elon’s low percentage, the Tribe was not able to put them away, which would come back to haunt the team in the second half.
After just 3 and a half minutes into the second half, the Phoenix took a 35-34 lead behind a 13-4 run. The Tribe would answer, but Elon would gain the lead back after two made free throws by Elon guard Steven Santa-Ana with 12:38 to go in the contest. Elon would hold the lead for the rest of the game, as they lead by as much as 10 points over the final 12 minutes. The Tribe did claw back, getting within one point with 2:10 minutes to go after a layup by Jack Whitman. However, Elon would score 13 of the game’s final 16 points, giving them the 71-62 victory over the Tribe.
As previously stated, this game really hurt for the Tribe. Elon jumped ahead of the Tribe in the standings, and W&M fell to seventh in the league. However, it isn’t as bad as it sounds. Had the Tribe played (and beat) Drexel in the game delayed due to snow (which is still going to be made up), the team would be sitting at fourth in the CAA with Elon, and 2 others.
Around the CAA
UNCW remains perfect in the CAA after an impressive 65-59 victory on the road over previously undefeated Charleston. In fact, UNCW (19-2, 8-0 CAA) has actually received 14 votes in the AP Poll, which would have them ranked as the 29th team in the country. Northeastern is on a bit of a slide, losing its previous 3 after starting 5-0 in the CAA. Again, had W&M played the game against Drexel (which was delayed due to snow) and won at home, the Tribe would be tied for fourth in the CAA. It’s not yet time for Tribe fans to panic. William & Mary plays its next four games and home. The team’s performance over this stretch will likely define what the team is capable of this season.
Next up for the Tribe
Due to the re-scheduled Drexel game, W&M will play 4 games in 8 days. In the games ahead, we’re looking for Tribe to beat Delaware and Drexel, while at least splitting with UNCW/Northeastern at home. Get ready to ROCK THE KAP! Roll Tribe!
vs. Delaware, 1/26
vs. UNCW, 1/28
vs. Drexel, 1/30
vs. Northeastern, 2/2