BY: PRATIK SINHA
8-10 (3-2 in CAA)
69-67 over UNCW on Saturday (honorable mention goes to the 58-57 victory over Richmond on December 3, 2022)
The Tribe have already surpassed last season’s dreadful win total (they won just 5 of their 32 games in 2021-22), and go into conference play with some tough battles under their belt, having played Power 5 squads such as Virginia Tech, North Carolina State, and Pittsburgh, and been competitive for the most part in those games despite losing. In their recent 81-65 win over Hampton, the Tribe had an extremely balanced scoring effort, with 15 points each from Noah Collier and Anders Nelson, and 13 each from Ben Wight and Gabe Dorsey. This is a deep and talented roster and multiple guys are making key contributions as the conference slate ramps up.
The Tribe sorely lack a primary scoring option. While several players on the roster have had double-digit scoring efforts, nobody on the team is averaging more than 11.2 points a game. Things aren’t great on defense either, as the Tribe ranks 325th nationally in adjusted defensive efficiency and is allowing conference opponents to effectively shoot over 50% from the field. Though they have been competitive in their CAA matchups so far, the schedule isn’t going to get any easier and the team will need to tighten things up on defense to have any shot at a deep conference tournament run in March.
The Tribe’s next opponent will be #22 Charleston on Monday, January 16 at 5pm.
7-9 (2-3 in CAA)
81-67 over Charleston on January 8, 2023 (honorable mention goes to the 66-61 OT victory over VCU on November 11, 2022)
Led by graduate student Riley Casey, the Tribe shot lights out from 3-point range in last Sunday’s home win over Charleston, making 14 threes (the most ever in a single game at Kaplan Arena) and collectively shooting over 50% from beyond the arc. Casey herself drained 7 threes and finished with 31 points, her third game this season scoring at least 30.
Earlier this season, Casey connected on 6 of 9 threes against the Army Black Knights, matching the third-best 3-point shooting performance ever by a W&M player. She has certainly been prolific, ranking 24th in the nation (and leading the CAA) in 3-point shooting percentage, and her 17.4 points per game are good for 2nd in the conference.
However, the Tribe are far from a one-woman show. Sydney Wagner, who like Casey was a preseason All-CAA First-Team selection, is averaging 14.4 points per game and has started all 14 games this season so far. In the Tribe’s 67-57 victory at Longwood, Wagner embraced the closer role as she scored 8 of the team’s final 9 points to secure the win. In addition to the scoring one-two punch of Casey and Wagner, junior Caitlin Wingertzahn ranks among the CAA’s top ten shot blockers, with 1.1 rejections per game.
As their 6-8 record indicates, the Tribe have been inconsistent with their play, particularly on the defensive end. They completely capitulated in their loss to Stony Brook, losing 89-61(being outscored 27-11 in the fourth quarter) to allow their opponents their largest margin of victory this season. As conference play heats up, the team needs to prove that these dismal showings are more of an anomaly than a regular occurrence.
The Tribe’s next opponent will be Hampton on Thursday, January 19 at 7pm inside Kaplan Arena.