WILMINGTON, N.C. - The William and Mary men’s basketball team pulled out its seventh road victory of the season on Wednesday night, downing UNCW, 54-50, at Trask Coliseum. The Tribe turned up its play on the defensive end, limiting the Seahawks to its second-lowest scoring output of the season and the lowest for a W&M opponent this year. The seven road victories rank fifth in W&M history and currently puts the Tribe among the top 10 in the country. The Green and Gold improved to 14-8 on the year and 6-3 in CAA play, while UNCW dropped to 6-18 overall and 0-9 in league action.
Junior guard Marcus Thornton led the Tribe in scoring for the seventh straight game and 15th time overall this season with 19 points to go along with four assists. He was 7-of-12 from the floor, including a 3-of-6 effort from 3-point range. Senior forward Tim Rusthoven was the only other Tribe player in double figures with 10 points on 5-of-7 from the floor, while senior Brandon Britt and freshman Omar Prewitt each chipped in nine points. Senior forward Kyle Gaillard topped the Tribe in rebounding with a season-high eight.
A slow start saw the Tribe trail 4-2 following an Addison Spruill lay-up just under three minutes into the contest. W&M responded with six straight points as part of a 12-2 run to take a lead it would never relinquish. Thornton and Britt highlighted the spurt, scoring nine of the Tribe’s 12 points.
The roll started as sophomore Sean Sheldon found Thornton for a cutting dunk to tie the game. Following a Britt fast-break lay-up, Thornton drove the right side of the lane for a thunderous throwdown. Britt scored on a driving lay-up while drawing the foul. He converted the conventional 3-point play, before Thornton found senior Julian Boatner for a transition 3-pointer from the left side to give W&M a 14-6 lead with 11:42 remaining in the opening half.
The Tribe lead was seven, 22-15, following a Rusthoven lay-up off a Prewitt pass at the 4:33 mark. Never team could find much traction over the remainder of the first half as UNCW netted the final field goal of the opening 20 minutes with 2:46 left, and W&M took a 22-17 cushion to the locker room.
A Rusthoven lay-up on the Tribe’s opening possession of the second half extended the lead back to seven, but UNCW chipped its way back to within three points. A Cedrick Williams putback at the 16:24 mark sliced the W&M advantage to 26-23.
Thornton answered for the Green and Gold with five straight points as part of an 11-0 run. His wide open fast-break 3-pointer pushed the advantage to eight and forced a UNCW timeout. Prewitt and Britt followed with successive 3-pointers to bump the Tribe lead to 37-23 with 13:42 left.
The lead was 13 at the 11:35 mark following a Thornton jumper, before the Seahawks started to claw their way back thanks to the shooting of Tanner Milson. The UNCW senior guard scored 11 of the Seahawk’s 13 points over a two and a half minute stretch to close the gap. His third 3-pointer of the night at the 8:22 mark cut the Tribe lead to 46-40.
The Green and Gold lead dwindled to as little as four points and was 50-46 following a Williams jumper with 4:21 to play. On the ensuing Tribe possession, Prewitt canned a huge 3-pointer from the right corner to push the margin back to seven.
Back-to-back buckets for the Seahawks brought the home team within a single possession, 53-50, with possession and less than 30 seconds remaining. Williams though missed a jumper that would have drawn UNCW within one, and Britt pulled down the rebound. The Chesapeake, Va., native hit 1-of-2 from the free throw line with 7.9 seconds remaining to make it a two-possession game, and the Tribe held on for the 54-50 victory.
W&M finished the night shooting 43.5 percent (20-of-46) from the floor, including a 60 percent clip (12-of-20) in the second half. The Tribe shot just 30.4 percent from 3-point range, but did can seven 3-pointers compared to just three for UNCW. The Green and Gold dished out 11 assists on its 20 made field goals and only turned the ball over seven times on the night.
The Seahawks connected on 40.4 percent (23-of-57) from the floor, but were just 3-of-11 (27.3 percent) from 3-point range and only 1-of-6 (16.7 percent) from the free throw line. UNCW held a 36-30 advantage on the glass. Williams finished with a double-double for the Seahawks on 10 points and 11 rebounds, while Milson led them in scoring with 11 points off the bench.
The Tribe wraps up its three-game road swing on Saturday, Feb. 8, at Northeastern. The contest is slated for a 7 p.m. tip from Matthews Arena in Boston, Mass. Fans can listen in over 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 Web at TribeAthletics.com. The Northeastern video feed is available at GoNU.com.