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The William & Mary men’s basketball team used a strong second half and held off a late charge from reigning Mid-American Conference regular season champion Central Michigan to close out the non-conference slate with an 88-84 victory at Kaplan Arena on Tuesday night.
Junior Omar Prewitt became the 38th player in program history to score 1,000 career points as the Green and Gold rallied from a halftime deficit for the third straight game. The Tribe (8-3) shot 58.6 percent (17-of-29) and converted 18-of-24 (75 percent) from the charity stripe in the second 20 minutes, while holding off a late push from the Chippewas (6-6) that included three 3-pointers in the final 39 seconds.
Prewitt led all scorers with a season-high 23 points on 6-of-12 from the floor and an impressive 10-of-12 from the free throw line. He added eight rebounds and four assists compared to just one turnover. Junior Daniel Dixon added 19 points and seven rebounds, while senior T4rry Tarpey just missed a double-double with 12 points, nine rebounds and three blocked shots.
Sophomores Connor Burchfield and Greg Malinowski added double-double efforts off the bench with 14 and 10 points, respectively. Burchfield knocked down 4-of-6 from 3-point range in the winning effort and the Tribe outscored CMU, 26-11, in bench production.
Trailing by two at the half, the Tribe quickly moved in front and led by as many as six in the early part of the second frame. Led by senior guard Chris Fowler, who was playing in just his fifth game of the season after returning from injury, the Chippewas reeled on an 8-0 run to move back in front midway through the final 20 minutes. He scored five points and found John Simons for a 3-pointer during the spurt. His old-fashion 3-point play gave the visitors a 58-56 lead with 9:54 left.
The Green and Gold regained the lead thanks to five straight points from Burchfield scored five straight points. He hit a pair of free throws to knot the game of 60, before drilling a 3-pointer from the left wing to put the home team on top. After Fowler briefly tied the game at 60 with a triple, Dixon answered right back with a trifecta on the break to give W&M the advantage for good.
Four straight points from Prewitt, including a nifty banker from the right side, extended the margin to 72-66 with 3:25 left. His pair of free throws at the 4:05 mark gave him 17 points for the game and 1,000 for his career. He is the 11th player under W&M head coach Tony Shaver to reach the milestone.
The Green and Gold hit 12 of its final 16 from the free throw line (75 percent) over the last three minutes and the lead reached as many as nine, 80-71, after four straight from Dixon, including a pair of free throws at the 1:03 mark. Central Michigan, though, scored 13 points over the final minute to make things interesting, including a trio of 3-pointers.
A contested Simons’ 3-pointer from the corner with just under 12 seconds remaining drew the visitors within 87-84. Following a Tribe turnover just three seconds later, Braylon Rayson missed a deep triple from the left wing, and Tarpey corralled the rebound with just 2.1 seconds left, drawing the foul in the process . He hit 1-of-2 from the charity stripe to put the game away.
The Tribe finished just under 50 percent from the field at 49.2 (29-of-59), including an 8-of-22 effort (36.4 percent) from 3-point range. The Green and Gold connected on season-high 22-of-30 (73.3 percent) from the charity stripe. W&M outrebound CMU, 38-33, and dished out 17 assists compared to just seven turnovers. Sophomore David Cohn topped W&M with five assists compared to just one turnover.
Central Michigan shot 43.9 percent (29-of-66) and reached its season average in 3-pointers made with 12. They need 37 attempts to do so, finishing the night at 32.4 percent from long range. The Chippewas, like the Tribe, only turned the ball over seven times in an up-and-down game. Rayson led CMU with 23 points, while Folwer added 21. Simons chipped in a double-double on 14 points and 10 rebounds.
W&M opened up a six-point advantage with five straight after an early back-and-forth start. Sophomore Oliver Tot found Malinowski for a lay-up, before dishing to Burchfield who knocked down a triple from the right wing. The spurt gave W&M a 15-9 cushion seven and a half minutes into the contest.
Central Michigan responded with a 13-2 run to move in front. Rayson highlighted the spurt for the Chippewas, scoring eight of the 13 points. His deep 3-pointer from the right side gave the visitors a 22-17 advantage with 8:47 left in the opening half.
The Green and Gold regained the lead with a 7-0 run. Burchfield hit his second 3-pointer from the opening half, before back-to-back lay-ups from Prewitt and senior Sean Sheldon gave W&M a 24-22 cushion only a minute and a half later.
The Chippewas answered with seven straight. Fowler and Rayson sandwiched lay-ups around a Corey Redman 3-pointer in retaking a five-point cushion, 29-24, with four minutes left. A Tarpey jumper in the final 30 seconds drew the Tribe within 33-31 at the intermission.
The Green and Gold scored the first four points out of the locker room in the opening minute to take the lead. Prewitt found Sheldon for an easy lay-up to tie the game on the Tribe’s initial possession of half, before a Cohn steal led to a fast-break dunk for Tarpey, giving W&M a 35-33 advantage.
CMU briefly led following an alley-oop and-1 as Josh Kozinski found Luke Meyer for a lay-up. Meyer’s free throw put the visitors on top 38-37. Cohn answered with a 3-pointer from the right corner for the Tribe, before a Tarpey left wing jumper extended the Tribe lead to 42-38 four minutes into the second half.
After another Rayson 3-pointer from the right corner put CMU on top, W&M scored seven straight to take a six-point lead. Prewitt scored five of the Tribe’s seven on the spurt including two free throws at the 11:09 mark.
The Tribe finished the non-conference slate at 8-3, equaling its best mark since joining the Colonial Athletic Association. The eight wins also tied for the most in the CAA Era, tying Shaver’s 2009-10 team that finished the non-conference portion of the schedule at 8-3.
The Tribe returns to action when it opens CAA play against the Towson Tigers on New Year’s Eve. Tip-off is slated for 1 p.m. from Kaplan Arena, and the contest will be streamed online at Tribe Athletics TV via Stretch Internet.
Tribe fans can also 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 can also be heard online at TribeAthletics.com.