Defense Sparks Tribe Men’s Basketball Comeback in 68-62 Win over JMU

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Courtesy TribeAthletics.com
Courtesy TribeAthletics.com

Rallying from 18 points down, the William & Mary men’s basketball team turned it on both offensively and defensively to surge past James Madison, 68-62, on Sunday night at Kaplan Arena.

The Dukes (16-7, 6-4 CAA) built an 18-point first-half lead by hitting 12 of its first 17 shots, including five straight 3-pointers at one stretch. Over the final 28:55 of the contest, though, W&M limited the Dukes to just 27.7 percent (13-of-47) and only 3-of-25 (12 percent) from 3-point range.

On the other end, the Green and Gold (15-6, 7-3 CAA) connected on 56 percent from the floor and hit 11-of-13 from the free throw line to score 42 points in the final 20 minutes. JMU entered the game as one of only three teams in the country with a perfect record in true road games, having won their first seven, including four in CAA play.

Juniors Daniel Dixon and Omar Prewitt led the Tribe with 17 and 16 points, respectively. Dixon connected on 3-of-6 from 3-point range and added a perfect 6-of-6 at the charity stripe. Prewitt added five rebounds, three assists and a career-high five steals to his stat line. Senior Terry Tarpey rounded out the Tribe’s double-digit scorers with 11 points, five rebounds and three assists.

The Tribe cut the Duke’s 18-point first half lead to 12 at the intermission, before using a 15-0 run to surge in front during the early stage of the second frame. It was the Green and Gold defense that sparked the spurt. Over a six-and-a-half minute stretch from a minute into the second half to the 12:30 mark, the Tribe held JMU scoreless, including 0-of-9 from the floor to go with five turnovers.

Dixon started the run, cutting the margin to single digits with a 3-pointer from the right wing, before Tarpey brought the Tribe faithful to its feet with a steal and fast-break dunk at the 18:17 mark. Less than a minute later, a Prewitt learner in the lane cut the gap to 40-35 and forced a JMU timeout.

The break did little to stem the Green and Gold tide as sophomore David Cohn raced up the court for a fast-break lay-up. Prewitt found fellow Kentuckian Jack Whitman for a hook shot along the left side of the paint to draw W&M within a point, and Dixon connected on a pair of free throws at the 13:27 mark to give W&M its first lead since 2:14 into the contest. Cohn found Tarpey for a lay-up to cap the run and give the home team a 43-40 advantage with 12:38 remaining.

The lead changed hands five times over the next six minutes, before W&M finally took the lead for good. The Dukes led by one, 53-52, following a Yohanny Dalembert free throw at the 6:10 mark. Sophomore Greg Malinowski answered on the other end, beating the shot clock with a baseline jumper to give W&M the lead for good.

Dixon nailed a dagger of a 3-pointer from the right side off a hand-off from senior Sean Sheldon to push the lead to 60-55 with just over two minutes remaining. A Shakir Brown triple brought JMU within two at the 1:10 mark, but W&M beat the JMU pressure and Tarpey found Sheldon for a lay-up. The Tribe connected on all six of its free throws over the final 36 seconds, including four from Dixon, to down the Dukes, 68-62.

The Tribe finished the night at 43.4 percent (23-of-53) from the floor, including 6-of-18 (33.3 percent) from 3. The Green and Gold outscored the Dukes by 13 points (16-3) at the free throw line, hitting 72.7 percent (16-of-22) from the charity stripe. W&M turned the ball over just seven times on the night, twice during the second-half comeback, while dishing out 14 assists. The Tribe turned 15 JMU miscues into a 16-6 advantage in points off turnovers.

Defensively, the Green and Gold limited JMU to 39.1 percent (25-of-64) shooting and just 26.5 percent (9-of-34) from 3-point range. JMU held a 41-32 advantage on the glass, and outscored W&M on second-chance points, 16-2. Ron Curry led JMU with 19 points, while Shakir Brown added a double-double on 13 points and 11 rebounds.

In the opening half, the Dukes broke the game open with a 24-5 run to take as much as an 18-point lead. At one point during the stretch, JMU connected on five-straight 3-pointers. Curry knocked down three of those triples, including one from the right side while drawing the foul. His unconventional four-point play extended the Dukes’ lead to 25-10 at the 11:11 mark. After a Prewitt 3-pointer briefly halted the run, James Madison scored six straight capped by a Brown lay-up to push the lead to 31-13 with 8:55 left.

The Tribe drew within 11 with a quick 7-0 spurt. Tarpey scored the first three points of the run, including a fastbreak lay-up off a Prewitt steal. A Dixon floater at the 6:46 mark cut the gap to 31-20. JMU answered with seven straight of its own to push the margin to back to its largest, 38-20, on Winston Grays’ second 3-pointer of the opening half.

W&M narrowed the margin to 12 at the intermission scoring the final six points of the first half. Prewitt and Cohn knocked down a pair of free throws each around a cutting Tarpey lay-up to close it to 38-26 at the break. The Dukes connected on 7-of-18 (38.9 percent) from 3-point range in the opening 20 minutes, while the Green and Gold shot just 32.1 percent (9-of-28) from the floor.

Cohn tallied nine points to go with four rebounds and four assists compared to zero turnovers. Malinowski chipped in seven points and four rebounds off the bench, and Sheldon finished with six points, four rebounds and four assists.

The Tribe hits the road to open the month of February, facing Northeastern on Thursday, Feb. 4. Tip-off is set for 7 p.m., and the game will be televised regionally on Comcast SportsNet. The contest can be seen on Comcast SportNet Mid-Atlantic and New England as well The Comcast Network Philadelphia and SportsNet New York. Fans can also view the contest online at 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.

The Chesapeake Bank Tony Shaver Show returns Monday night, Feb. 1, from Paul’s Deli, at 761 Scotland Street in Williamsburg. The weekly show begins on-site at 6:30 p.m. with the live interview airing from 7 to 7:30 p.m. Longtime Tribe play-by-play announcer Jay Colley will host the broadcast. The show can be heard over the Tribe Radio Network and online at TribeAthletics.com.