Strong First Half Propels W&M Men’s Basketball Past Charleston

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Courtesy TribeAthletics.com
Courtesy TribeAthletics.com

Behind a season-high 26 points from junior Omar Prewitt and an impressive first-half showing, the William & Mary men’s basketball team topped the College of Charleston, 78-70, on Saturday afternoon at Kaplan Arena.

The Tribe (9-4, 1-1 CAA) shot 60.7 percent from the field in the opening 20 minutes, including 7-of-13 from 3-point range, to race out to a 19-point advantage on the way handing the Cougars (9-4, 1-1 CAA), who were coming off a 65-62 road win at JMU, their first league loss.

Prewitt finished the day at 8-of-11 from the field and 10-of-15 from the free throw line for his fifth 20-point game of the year to go with a game-high eight rebounds. Junior Daniel Dixon tallied 12 points, while sophomore Greg Malinowski chipped in 10 off the bench. Seniors Terry Tarpey and Sean Sheldon and sophomore David Cohn pitched in nine points each. Cohn topped W&M with six assists and four steals, and Sheldon blocked a career-high five shots.

After an opening bucket from Charleston, W&M hit five of its first seven shots from the floor to take control. W&M scored six straight capped by a Cohn jumper from the left side, giving the home team a 6-2 advantage two minutes into the contest. Dixon and Tarpey drilled back-to-back 3-pointers to push the Tribe margin to 12-5 at the 16:03 mark.

W&M extend the advantage to double figures with a 13-2 run. Connor Burchfield’s step-back 3-pointer from the left side made it a double-digit advantage at 19-9 with 11:43 remaining in the first half. Dixon closed out the run with four straight, scoring on a offensive putback and hitting two free throws to give W&M a 27-11 lead at the 8:41 mark.

Charleston closed to within singles digits thanks to seven straight points, including five from the CAA’s leading scorer Canyon Barry. His steal resulted in a fast-break dunk, before Barry knocked down a 3-pointer from the left side to cut the W&M advantage to 27-18 with 6:54 left.

The Green and Gold responded with 13 straight to take its largest lead of the opening half at 22. During the stretch, W&M held Charleston scoreless for five minutes. Prewitt sandwiched lay-ups around triples from Cohn and Malinowski as part of the run. Sheldon found Tarpey on a skip pass, and the Stamford, Conn., native connected on a 3-pointer from the right side to give W&M a 40-18 lead with 2:14 left in the opening half.

W&M led by 19 points, 44-25, at the half and increased the margin back to its largest at 22 following a pair of Cohn steals midway through the second half. He found Prewitt for a fast-break lay-up on the first swipe of the sequence, before knocking the ball away from Charleston’s Cameron Johnson. The steal led to a two-hand Cohn jam in transition, igniting the Tribe crowd and lifting the lead to 60-38 with 10:57 remaining.

The Tribe cushion was once again 19, 69-50, following a Malinowski 3-pointer from the right corner with six minutes remaining. Charleston used a 9-2 run with all nine points coming from Maquise Pointer and Evan Bailey, to close the gap to 71-59 at the 3:58 mark on Pointer’s steal and fastbreak lay-up.

Four straight Prewitt free throws stemmed the Charleston tide and pushed the lead back to 15 at 76-61 with2:19 left. The Cougars could get no closer than 77-70 on a Jarrell Brantley bucket with 27.7 seconds remaining.

W&M connected on 57.8 percent (26-of-45) from the field and 42.1 percent (8-of-19) from 3-point range against a Charleston defense that entered the game leading the CAA in defensive efficiency and ranked among the top 60 nationally in the category. The Cougars had limited teams to just 65.8 points per game. The Tribe also connected on 18-of-26 (69.2 percent) from the free throw line.

Charleston finished the contest at 43.8 percent (28-of-64) from the floor and 8-of-26 (30.8 percent) from 3-point range. CofC held a 34-30 advantage on the glass. Pointer led the Courgars with 23 points on 8-of-14 shooting, including 4-of-9 from 3-point range, to go with four steals. Brantley, who scored 29 against James Madison, tallied 16 points and eight rebounds, while Barry scored 11 points in 18 minutes, before leaving with an injury.

The Tribe returns to action when it travels to the City of Brotherly Love for a match-up with Drexel on Thursday. The game carries a 7 p.m. tip time and will be broadcast on CAA.TV.

Tribe fans can also catch the men’s basketball action 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 is also available over the Web at TribeAthletics.com.