W&M Basketball Update: CAA Play & CAA TOURNAMENT SCENARIOS

Junior Jack Whitman has come alive in recent games, slamming multiple dunks over opposing teams' big men. [photo via Jim Agnew, tribeathletics.com]
Junior Jack Whitman has come alive in recent games, slamming multiple dunks over opposing teams’ big men. [photo via Jim Agnew, tribeathletics.com]
The past three games have been a bit of a whirlwind for the Tribe. Going into the week with a 2-11 record on the road, fans had to assume W&M would lose at least one of the two @ JMU or @ Delaware — though really, the Tribe shouldn’t be losing to either, with both the Dukes and Blue Hens having solidified themselves as second tier CAA teams this season. Nonetheless, the prediction would hold true.

With only one game left in the CAA before the Tribe makes its way to the conference tournament in Charleston, every game becomes that much more important. Luckily for the Green and Gold, its remaining game is at home. If the Tribe can pull out a win over Towson on Saturday, it should cement itself with a solid #4 seed in this year’s CAA Tournament.

 jmu-logo

@ JMU (LOSS):

JMU 95, W&M 92

14-12 (8-7 CAA)

W&M went into this game against an undermanned JMU Dukes team that had just lost one of its best players, senior Yohanny Dalembert, to injury. While W&M made the first shot of the game, giving it the lead, JMU would take the lead and hold it for the rest of the first half. The Dukes’ lead got as high as 14 points with 1:04 left to go in the half, before the Tribe cut the lead to a slightly more manageable 11 at halftime.

W&M fans everywhere were shaking their heads, thinking that another road loss was inevitable. The Dukes extended their lead to 14 points through the first 4 minutes of the first half, and it appeared that the game was going due south. However, W&M fought back, and slowly climbed back into the game. The Tribe cut the lead to just four points, 77-73, with 3:03 to go in the contest.

The remaining three minutes were a bit hectic, with both teams exchanging baskets. W&M cut the lead to 2 (79-77) after a jumper by Omar Prewitt with 1:40 to go. W&M fouled on the following possession, but JMU would make both free throws. W&M then found themselves down 81-77 with 43 seconds to go. Right when it looked out of reach, W&M showed some fight. Daniel Dixon cut the lead to 2 with a quick layup with 36 seconds to go. After a timeout, W&M went into full court pressure, and remarkably David Cohn forced a turnover, fed Dixon, who then made the quick layup to tie the game with 27 seconds to go. The Tribe held JMU on defense, and the game went to OT. Was W&M about to pull of the huge road comeback?

At this point, it really seemed like W&M would take its high-flowing energy into OT to defeat the Dukes. Unfortunately, that was not the case, as nobody made a basket for the Tribe aside from Daniel Dixon in the overtime period. W&M would go on to drop another away loss to a far inferior team, falling further in the CAA standings…the road curse continues.

delaware

@ Delaware (WIN):

W&M 85, Delaware 64

15-12 (9-7 CAA)

Going into this game, W&M hadn’t won an away game since a successful last minute heave by Daniel Dixon that defeated the Hofstra Pride way back on January 2nd. Wow. However, in this game, W&M put together a solid effort from start to finish. The game began back and forth, and found itself deadlocked 20-20 with 7:05 to go in the first half. W&M would take the lead with 4:33 to go in the first after a 3-pointer from who other than Daniel Dixon. Unlike many other games this year, the Tribe would finish the first half hard, going into halftime with a 38-26 lead.

In the second half, W&M put its foot on the gas, jumping ahead by more than 10 points the remainder of the game. The lead would grow as large as 23 points with 2:22 to go, as players such as Jamison Glover, Omar Mostafa, and Michael Schlotman saw some playing time. Tribe faithful were wondering where this effort and play on the road had been the whole season. But hey, a win is a win, and we will take it. Especially against Delaware. We are still bitter from the CAA Championship game a couple years back…

The team shot 51.9%, including 45.5% from 3, and were again led by Seniors Daniel Dixon and Omar Prewitt, who combined for 48 points (Dixon 25, Omar 23). If Omar and Dixon each get 20 points a game, W&M is a hard team to beat, no matter who they are playing. With those two on the roster, there is always hope. Remember that going into this year’s CAA Tournament. #WeBelieve

hofstrapride

vs. Hofstra (LOSS):

Hofstra96, W&M 82

15-13 (9-8 CAA)

Back at home, in a barn that has seen the Tribe go undefeated, this game was a big let down. Jumping out to an early 14-5 lead, the Green and Gold just couldn’t put Hofstra away. It seemed that, especially in the second half, with each W&M 2-pointer made, the Pride would respond with a 3-point play. The teams would trade shots back and forth, so much so that at the half, the game was tied 41-41.

Throughout the second half, the Tribe would never lead by more than 5 points. Hofstra stayed in the game through a steady dose of offense, and the added intensity from its star big man, Rokas Gustys — who would finish the game with 15 rebounds. But on this night, it wasn’t Gustys that shined, but sophomore Justin Wright-Foreman. The entire contest, Wright-Foreman was on absolute fire, especially from beyond the arc, finishing with an incredible 35 points (7/12 from three-point range). He was also a perfect 6/6 on free throw attempts when getting to the line. W&M truly had no answer on defense for his play, and he was a big reason that the Pride found itself in the game even after several attempted W&M runs.

screen-shot-2017-02-24-at-8-20-42-pm
via caasports.com

With 3:42 left in the game, it was again all tied up, this time at 82 apiece. And with that much time left, the Tribe wouldn’t score a single point more. Hofstra would go on an absolute tear, finishing with 14 unanswered points to absolutely bury the Tribe on the road. And guess what? Justin Wright-Foreman would connect on 7 of those 14 unanswered points to finish the game. It truly was a big let down for the Tribe not only to lose its undefeated streak at home, but also to lose the opportunity to move up in the standings in a time when it matters most. In the losing effort, W&M committed 15 turnovers, and were led by Daniel Dixon‘s 32 points.

W&M CAA Tourney Scenarios

UNCW and Charleston are guaranteed to be the top two seeds. Towson is also now guaranteed the #3 seed. W&M can wind up as the 4th, 5th, or 6th ranked team depending on what happens on Saturday. But whatever the case is, W&M controls its own destiny. Win on Saturday, and be guaranteed the 4 spot. Lose, suffer the consequences, and pray that the cards fall in your favor (never a good thing). Here are some potential scenarios:

SCENARIO 1 (Potential Best-Case Scenario)

W&M WINS vs. Towson, Elon WINS vs. Delaware, and Northeastern LOSES @ UNCW: 
W&M would finish 4th (owning the tiebreaker over Elon), and play #5-ranked Elon in the first round, in the #4 vs. #5 game.
#4 wm-feathers vs. #5 elon phoenix

SCENARIO 2 (Potential Best-Case Scenario)

W&M WINS vs. Towson, Elon LOSES vs. Delaware, and Northeastern WINS @ UNCW:
W&M would finish 4th, #6 Elon would lose the tiebreaker to #5 Northeastern. W&M would play #5-ranked Northeastern as the #4 seed, in the #4 vs. #5 game.
#4 wm-feathers vs. #5 northeastern

SCENARIO 3 (Middle of the Road Scenario)

W&M LOSES vs. Towson, Elon LOSES vs. Delaware, and Northeastern WINS @ UNCW:
W&M would finish 5th (losing the tiebreaker with #4 Northeastern), as Elon would check in at #6. W&M would play Northeastern in the first round, in the #4 vs. #5 game — this time, as the #5 seed.
#5 wm-feathers vs. #4 northeastern

SCENARIO 4 (Worst-Case Scenario)

W&M LOSES vs. Towson, Elon WINS vs. Delaware, and Northeastern WINS @ UNCW:
Elon would lock in the #4 seed as W&M would lose the tiebreaker to #5 Northeastern, dropping the Tribe to the #6 seed. W&M would play the #3-seeded Towson Tigers.

#6 wm-feathers vs. #3 towson

__________________________________________________________________________

There exists a wide range of possibilities for the Tribe, but as previously stated, the team truly does control its own destiny. Win on Saturday, at home in front of a raucous Kaplan Arena, or risk falling all the way to the #6 seed. Parity looks like it’s at an all-time high in this year’s CAA, and any break the Tribe can take by moving up in the standings will help. With big-time senior captain scorers Daniel Dixon and Omar Prewitt primed and ready for their last go-round, W&M will undoubtedly have the fire it needs to get the job done. Now it’s time to go out there and take what’s ours. LET’S GO TRIBE.

Next up for the Tribe

towson-logo

vs. Towson, 2/25 (Saturday, 2 PM)

 

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