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Sparked by a 23-0 second-half run, the William & Mary men’s basketball team snapped the nation’s second-longest winning streak and got back on the winning track, upending CAA leader UNCW, 87-69, on Thursday night at Kaplan Arena.
Trailing 61-49 with 10:37 remaining, the Green and Gold (18-8, 10-5 CAA) scored 23 straight points, hitting first final seven shots of the run to end the Seahawks’ (20-6, 12-3) 11-game winning streak.
Sophomore David Cohn led four Tribe players in double figures with 21 points, including a perfect 12-of-12 from the free throw line. He dished out six assists, including four during the decisive run, compared to zero turnovers.
Dixon broke out of a shooting slump, hitting 7-of-12 from the floor and 5-of-8 from 3-point range, scoring 19 points. He tallied eight points and dished out two of his four assists during the 23-0 stretch. Senior Terry Tarpey poured in 16 points on 5-of-7 shooting and 3-of-3 from 3-point range to go with six rebounds and two blocked shots. He scored eight straight during the second-half spurt, including a pair of 3-pointers to push W&M over the hump.
A 19-2 UNCW run flipped a 47-42 Tribe lead early in the second half to a 61-49 advantage for the visitors following a Dylan Sherwood lay-up with 10:37 remaining. From there, it was all W&M. Junior Omar Prewitt found Dixon for a lay-up with a knifing pass to halt the Seahawk run. Senior Sean Sheldon putback a Tribe miss to draw W&M within 61-53 at the 9:16 mark.
Cohn assisted on a three-straight 3-pointers, finding found Dixon in transition and then Tarpey for back-to-back triples from each corner. The second trifecta, this one from the right corner, gave W&M the lead for good, 62-61, with 7:08 left.
The personal 8-0 Tarpey run continued as Dixon made a steal on the defensive end and proceeded to his senior teammate on a back-door cut for a thunderous dunk. Cohn and Dixon drilled back-to-back 3-pointers, before a pair of free throws from the former pushed W&M’s run to 23-0 and the lead to 72-61 with 4:42 left. Defensively, the Tribe limited UNCW to 0-of-7 from the floor during the spurt with three turnovers.
A Chris Flemmings’ 3-pointer momentarily stopped the bleeding for UNCW, but W&M ripped of eight straight, extending the lead to 80-64 with 2:49 remaining. The Green and Gold connected on 6-of-8 from the free throw line during the stretch, and Sheldon pushed W&M to the 80-point mark for the fifth straight game with a jump hook.
The lead ballooned to as much as 21, 87-66, on a pair of Prewitt free throws with just over a minute left. In total, with the 23-0 spurt included, W&M ripped over a 38-5 run after trailing by 12 points.
The Tribe shot 49.1 percent (26-of-53) from the floor, including 10-of-19 (52.6 percent) from 3-point range. After starting the second half just 2-of-12 from the floor, the Green and Gold hit 11 of its final 13 shots over the final 10 and a half minutes. For the second-straight game, W&M got the free throw line at a significant rate, connecting on 25-of-33 (75.8 percent). The Tribe dished out 19 assists on its 26 made field goals and outrebounded UNCW, 41-30.
The Seahawks finished the night at 40 percent (26-of-65) from the field, but was just 9-of-30 (30 percent) from 3-point range. UNCW shot just 39.4 percent (13-of-33) in the second half, including 3-of-14 (21.4 percent) from 3-point range. Over the final 10 minutes, the Seahawks connected on only 3-of-17 from the field and 2-of-10 from 3-point range.
The Tribe jumped out to the early lead, scoring seven of the game’s first nine points, including five at the charity stripe. Back-to-back 3-pointers from UNCW’s Flemmings and Denzel Ingram closed margin to 9-8, before the Tribe opened up a seven-point cushion with a 7-1 run. Dixon canned a 3-pointer from the left wing, before sophomore Greg Malinowski’s banking jumper from the right side extended the advantage to 16-9 with 13:26 left in the opening half.
The lead reached eight, 19-11, before UNCW closed to within one thanks to a 7-0 run. A Jordon Talley lay-up cut the Tribe lead to 19-18 at the 11:07 mark.
Back-to-back triples from Flemmings and Mark Matthews as part of an 8-2 run gave UNCW its first lead of game. Marcus Bryan connected on a pair of free throws with 7:36 remaining put the visitors on top, 28-26. Dixon immediately answered with a transition 3-pointer to briefly give W&M the lead, but Bryan knocked down a jumper from the left side to make it 30-29 at the 7:06 mark.
The Tribe regained the lead for the remainder of the opening 20 minutes thanks to an 8-1 run. Dixon found Sheldon for a lay-up, putting W&M in front 32-30. Prewitt’s corner triple at the five-minute mark extended the lead to 37-31. The lead reached seven, 40-33, on a Malinowski free throw, before UNCW narrowed the margin to 42-38 at the intermission.
The Green and Gold led 47-42 following a pair of Tarpey free throws just over three minutes into the second half. The Seahawks ripped off nine straight to move back in front. C.J. Gettys sparked the initial push with seven points, including a conventional three-point play, to give UNCW a 51-47 lead.
After Malinowski layup, UNCW scored 10 straight points as part of a 19-2 run. Flemmings notched an old-fashion three-point play, before an Ingram 3-pointer pushed the margin to 10 points. Talley found Sherwood off an offensive rebound for a lay-up, extending the UNCW lead to 61-49 with 10:37 left.
Flemmings led UNCW with 18 points on 6-of-13 shooting, while Ingram, who had 30 points in the first meeting with the Tribe, hit four 3-pointers, but was just 4-of-15 from the floor to finish with 12 points. Talley had six points, seven rebounds and 10 assists off the bench for the visitors.
Prewitt scored in double figures for the eighth straight contest, tallying 13 points to go with five rebounds and four assists compared to zero turnovers. Sheldon just missed a double-double with nine points on 4-of-5 shooting and a game-high eight rebounds. Malinowski chipped in seven points and four rebounds off the bench.
The Tribe closes out the home portion of the schedule on Saturday, when it hosts Drexel for Senior Day. Tip-off is slated for 2 p.m., from Kaplan Arena, and the game will be televised on Comcast SportsNet with Al Koken and Blaine Taylor on the call.
Fans can find the game on Comcast SportsNet Mid-Atlantic, Philadelphia, New England, Chicago and Northwest as well as SportsNet New York and online at CAA.TV.
Prior to tip-off W&M will honor its seniors Terry Tarpey and Sean Sheldon, which own the most CAA wins of any Tribe class in school history.
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.