WILLIAMSBURG, Va. - The William and Mary men’s basketball team shot a sizzling 71 percent in the opening 20 minutes on the way to blitzing defending Colonial Athletic Association champion James Madison, 78-56, on Saturday afternoon at Kaplan Arena. For the third straight game, W&M shot better than 60 percent in the first half as the Green and Gold finished the day at 56.9 percent from the floor. The Tribe improved to 10-6 overall and 2-1 in CAA play, while the Dukes fell to 6-13 on the year and 1-4 in league action.
Junior guard Marcus Thornton led the Tribe attack with 20 points on 6-of-10 shooting, including a 4-of-6 effort from 3-point range. Senior Tim Rusthoven enjoyed a nice afternoon with 17 points to go with seven rebounds, while fellow classmate Brandon Britt continued his impressive play of late scoring 12 points. Rusthoven was 6-of-9 from the floor and 5-of-7 from the charity stripe, and Britt connected on 4-of-6 from the field and 3-of-4 from 3-point range. Sophomore Terry Tarpey topped the Tribe in rebounding for the third straight game with nine and added a team and career-high five assists.
With the game tied at 13 midway through the first half, Thornton and freshman Daniel Dixon knocked down back-to-back 3-pointers to jumpstart what proved to be the decisive run, a 29-7 W&M spurt. After a JMU bucket, Thornton found Rusthoven for a lay-up and then drilled another triple to extend the Tribe lead to 24-15, forcing a JMU timeout with 7:57 left in the half.
Just 30 seconds later, Tarpey increased the advantage to double-digits for the first time, pulling down a defensive rebound and going coast-to-coast for a lay-up. In total, the Tribe connected on seven straight shots from the field, and a lay-up from freshman Omar Prewitt with 5:59 remaining extended the cushion to 31-17.
A Nation jumper cut the margin to 12, before the Tribe put together an 11-1 spurt to pushing the lead to its largest of the first half at 22. Sophomore Sean Sheldon scored on an offensive putback, before Thornton and Britt canned back-to-back 3-pointers to increase the advantage to 39-20.
After a Rusthoven free throw, he missed the second, but W&M got the offensive rebound and Prewitt’s putback made it 42-20 with just over a minute remaining in the first half. JMU hit four free throws over the remainder of the frame, and the Green and Gold held a 42-24 advantage at the break. The Tribe’s 70.8 percent (17-of-24) from the field in the opening 20 minutes was the highest percentage in a half for the Green and Gold since connecting at a 76-percent (19-of-25) clip in the first half against the Dukes last season in Williamsburg.
James Madison drew within its closest in the second half at 14, 61-47, following a Ron Curry 3-pointer at the 6:30 mark, but the Tribe answered with eight straight points to put the game away. Britt responded to Curry’s triple with one of his own, before Prewitt drove the baseline for a hoop and drew the foul. He missed the ensuing 3-point play opportunity, but back-to-back offensive rebounds from senior Kyle Gaillard resulted a Thornton 3-pointer from the top of the key. The long-range bucket pushed the Tribe cushion back to 22, 69-47, with 4:23 remaining.
W&M finished the contest shooting 56.9 percent (29-of-51) from the field, and for the fourth time in the last five games, the Tribe knocked down double-digit 3-pointers, totaling 10-of-20 (50 percent) against the Dukes. The Green and Gold also won the battle on the boards for the fourth straight game, outrebounding JMU, 35-24. James Madison shot 41.7 percent (20-of-48) for the game, but just 21.7 percent (5-of-23) from 3-point range.
Gaillard turned in a nice stat line for the Tribe with seven points, five rebounds and four assists. Prewitt chipped in eight points off the bench, while Dixon added five for W&M. Nation led all scorers with 25 points to go with five rebounds, four assists and five steals, and Curry was the only other JMU player in double figures with 14 points.
The Tribe hits the road for the first of two away from Williamsburg on Wednesday night at Hofstra. The game is slated for a 7 p.m. tip from the Mack Sports Complex in Hempstead, N.Y. Fans can follow the action over the Tribe Radio Network with Jay Colley 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 can also be heard on TribeAthletics.com.