HARRISONBURG, Va. - A hot-shooting William and Mary men’s basketball team gutted out an 81-79 victory at James Madison on Sunday afternoon. The Tribe drilled a season-high 13 3-pointers and shot the fifth-best single-game 3-point percentage in school history (61.9) in picking up its sixth road win of the season. The Green and Gold improved to 13-8 overall and 5-3 in league action, while JMU’s two-game winning streak came to a close as it fell to 8-14 on the year and 3-5 in CAA play.
Junior guard Marcus Thornton scored a game-high 26 points on 8-of-16 from the field, including a sizzling 6-of-9 effort form 3-point range. Senior forward Tim Rusthoven scored 16 points on 5-of-6 from the field and 6-of-7 from the free throw line to go with a team-high six rebounds. Senior Brandon Britt and freshman Omar Prewitt rounded out the double-digit scorers with 11 and 10 points, respectively, while Prewitt dished out a career-high five assists.
Much like its been for the season, the Tribe opened the game hot from 3-point range. Senior Kyle Gaillard and sophomore Terry Tarpey drilled back-to-back triples to stake W&M to the early lead. An Andre Nation jumper in the lane cut the margin to 6-4 just over three minutes into the game.
The Tribe continued it’s hot shooting, extending its advantage to double-digits thanks to a 10-2 run. Back-to-back 3-pointers from Britt pushed the lead to 16-6 at the 12:39 mark. The torrid shooting allowed the Green and Gold to build the lead to its largest at 16. Freshman Daniel Dixon became the sixth different Tribe player to hit a 3-pointer in the opening half as his long-distance bucket gave W&M a 38-22 lead with 3:48 remaining.
JMU’s Andrey Semenov put together a personal 8-0 run to get the Dukes back into the contest. He knocked down two 3-pointers sandwiched around a pair of free throws, and his second triple cut the deficit to 38-30 with 1:12 left.
Thornton drilled a 3-pointer to beat the shot clock from the left wing with 33 seconds left to send the Green and Gold to the locker room with a 41-30 advantage. In the opening 20 minutes, the Tribe shot 56.5 percent (13-of-23) from the floor, including a 9-of-13 clip from 3-point range (69.2 percent).
The Tribe lead remained 11, 46-35, out of the locker room after a Rusthoven bucket off a lob pass from Prewitt at the 17:15 mark. JMU answered with a 14-2 run to take its first and only lead of the game. After back-to-back fast-break buckets from Nation, Curry drilled a triple from the top of the key to put the home team on top, 49-48, with 13:49 remaining.
The game was tied at 54 following a Semenov 3-pointer at 11:33, before W&M regained its traction with a 9-0 spurt. Back-to-back conventional 3-point plays from Rusthoven in the post and Prewitt off a steal and transition layup sparked the run, before Thornton canned on long 3-pointer to extend the lead to 63-54 midway though the half.
The Green and Gold cushion jumped to 11 points, as sophomore Sean Sheldon followed up a missed 3-point attempt to give the Tribe a 68-57 lead at the 8:05 mark. The Dukes would not go quietly, answering with 10 straight points to close within a single point. Nation sparked the JMU run with five straight points, before a Charles Cooke conventional 3-point play cut the deficit to a single possession. A pair of Semenov free throws made it 68-67 with three and a half minutes left.
With a one-point lead closing toward the two-minute mark, Gaillard hit Thornton with a cross-court skip pass, and the Upper Marlboro, Md., native connected on a trey for the left wing. The Tribe’s 13th 3-pointer of the game extended the advantage to 71-67.
The Tribe lead was three, 75-72, following a Dixon free throw, when the Tribe rookie forced a JMU turnover by knocking the ball away from Nation along the left baseline. W&M hit its next six free throws, two from Thornton and four by Prewitt, but JMU answered with a Cooke lay-up and a Semenov 3-pointer to make it 81-77 with seven seconds left. On the ensuing JMU possession, Ron Curry was fouled on a 3-point attempt from the right side with 2.5 seconds remaining. He made the first two freebies and missed the third intentionally, Semenov got the offensive rebound, but his fading jumper from the left baseline was short, and W&M celebrated the victory.
The Green and Gold finished the game shooting 55.8 percent (24-of-43) from the field and an impressive 61.9 percent (13-of-21) from 3-point range. The Green and Gold connected on 20-of-26 (76.9 percent) from the free throw line and dished out 15 assists on its 24 made field goals. W&M also blocked six shots, including two apiece from Rusthoven and Tarpey. Tarpey finished with six points and five rebounds, while Dixon added six points and three rebounds off the bench.
James Madison shot 42.2 percent (27-of-64) from the field and was 18-of-22 (81.8 percent) from the free throw line. The Dukes held a 32-25 advantage on the glass. Semenov led four JMU players in double figures with 23 points and eight rebounds, while Nation added 18 points and six rebounds. Cooke finished with 15 points and five steals for the home team, and Curry chipped in 11 points to go with nine assists.
The Tribe continues its three-game road trip when it travels to UNCW on Wednesday, Feb. 5. Tip-off is slated for 7 p.m. from Trask Coliseum. Tribe fans can listen to the broadcast on 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 the audio feed can be heard over the Internet at TribeAthletics.com.