WILLIAMSBURG, Va. - The William and Mary men’s basketball team turned it on offensively on the eve of Thanksgiving Wednesday night, stuffing the stat sheet in a 97-67 victory over VMI at Kaplan Arena. The Green and Gold raced out to a 21-point first-half advantage and led by as many as 33 on the way to its second straight victory. W&M placed four players in double figures, knocked down 12 3-pointers, outrebounded the Keydets, 51-38, and dished out 20 assists on 34 made field goals to go along with just six turnovers. The Tribe evened its ledger at 3-3, while VMI dropped to 4-3.
Senior forward Tim Rusthoven had a career night, finishing with 26 points and 16 rebounds, while adding five assists. Both his point and rebound totals were career highs, and he was 10-of-17 from the field to go with a 6-of-7 effort from the free throw line. Freshman Omar Prewitt scored a career-high 22 points, knocking down five 3-pointers and adding six rebounds. Sophomore Terry Tarpey turned an impressively balanced stat line with 10 points, nine rebounds, a career-high six steals, four assists and two blocked shots in the convincing victory.
The Tribe seized control of the contest early, jumping out to a double-digit advantage as it connected on 12 of its first 15 shots from the field. W&M used a 21-4 run to turned a 9-7 Green and Gold lead into a 19-point point advantage. The margin reached double-digits for the first time as senior Kyle Gaillard scored the five straight points to give W&M a 19-9 advantage just over five minutes into the game.
After a Keydets bucket, W&M ripped off 11 straight points to cap the run. Pewitt found sophomore Sean Sheldon for a lay-up, before scoring five in a row. He knocked down a 3-pointer from the right wing and scored on a driving lay-up at the 11:59 mark to extend the Tribe lead to 30-11.
The advantage reached as many as 21 in the first half as junior Marcus Thornton dished to Sheldon for another bucket, putting W&M on top 38-17 with 8:14 remaining. VMI battled its way back though, putting together a 14-2 run that cut home side lead to as few as seven, 40-33, with 1:42 left in the opening frame. A Rusthoven tip-in with 33 seconds remaining provided the halftime margin of 44-35.
The Keydets scored the opening bucket of the second half to once again close to within seven points, before the Tribe rattled off 11 of the game’s next 12 points to push the advantage to 17. Rusthoven scored six points on the spurt, including a pair of free throws at the 15:33 mark that gave W&M a 55-38 advantage.
Leading 58-42, the Green and Gold put the game out of reach with a 17-3 run, extending the margin to 28 points. Prewitt, Thornton and senior Julian Boatner each canned 3-pointers as part of the run as Thornton's triple at the 10:43 mark pushed the lead to 73-45.
W&M’s advantage reached its largest of the night at 88-55 with 7:02 remaining. Boatner and Thornton knocked down back-to-back 3-pointers, before Rusthoven put back his own miss for eight straight Tribe points. After a Keydet free throw, Prewitt knocked down a pair from the charity stripe to give W&M the 33-point cushion on the way most regulation points in nearly 10 years.
The Tribe’s 97 points on the night were its most in a regulation game since scoring 99 at James Madison in 2004. The Green and Gold also just missed its first 100-point game since 1998 when it poured in 101 against Elon at the Stanford Invitational.
W&M finished the night shooting 45.9 percent (34-of-74) from the floor to go along with a 44.4-percent clip (12-of-27) from 3-point range. The Tribe also connected on 81 percent (17-of-21) from the charity stripe. The Green and Gold dished out a season-high 20 assists, and its 51 rebounds were the most since pulling down 51 against Maine in 2005. W&M also took care of the basketball against VMI, turning the ball over just six times against a team that entered the game forcing nearly 18 per game and averaging better than 11 steals per game.
The Tribe also did a number defensively on VMI, holding the Keydets nearly 25 points below their season scoring average. VMI shot just 37.3 percent (25-of-67) from the floor and only 24 percent (6-of-25) from 3-point range. The Tribe finished with nine steals and six blocked shots. Tarpey’s six steals were the most for a W&M player since David Schneider had six against Drexel in 2008.
Despite a quiet night, Thornton extended his double-digit scoring streak to 38 games with 11 points, including a 3-of-6 effort from 3-point range. Boatner added a nice stat line with nine points on 3-of-8 from 3-point range to go with a career-high six rebounds and three assists. Sheldon chipped in nine points and four rebounds off the bench, while Gaillard added seven points, five rebounds and three assists.
The Tribe returns to action when it hits the road for a Saturday, Nov. 30, contest at Howard. Tip-off is slated for 5 p.m. from Burr Gym in Washington, D.C. The game will be broadcast on the Tribe Radio Network with Jay Colley and Bill McDonald on the call. The flagship stations of the Tribe Radio Network are The Tide 92.3 FM and 107.9 Bach FM. The audio can also be heard over the Web at TribeAthletics.com.