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Friday, May 24, 2024

Tribe Men’s Basketball Begins Conference Play with 77-70 Win Over Elon

(Tribe Athletics)

Box Score

Post Game

WILLIAMSBURG — There’s an old saying in sports that you take what the defense gives you. Elon didn’t literally give William & Mary a path to the basket Thursday night, but the Tribe found one and kept pounding.

With shots not falling at a high rate from the 3-point arc, W&M attacked the rim and got its conference schedule started right with a 77-70 win over Elon at Kaplan Arena. The Tribe scored 42 of its points in the paint and shot 70% from inside the arc.

And that, combined with a strong defensive effort and a plus-7 advantage on the boards, was enough to hold off the Phoenix (7-7, 0-1 CAA).

Sophomores Chase Lowe and Charlie Williams had 18 points each on a combined 12-of-19 shooting. Lowe finished with a career-high 12 rebounds for his second double-double and went 8-of-11 from the free throw line. Williams came down with seven boards and played one of his better defensive games of the season.

“Chase has so many ways he can impact the game and help us win,” coach Dane Fischer said. “He’s terrific at getting to the paint, and he’s one of the best players in the country at getting to the foul line.

“Charlie had 18 points on 10 shots, but I was most proud of his defensive effort. We had a fairly honest film session and challenged him because we need him to be better defensively. His effort on the defensive end and his commitment to that in practice was really important to us on a night when he also had 18.”

W&M (6-8, 1-0 CAA) also got a solid night from point guard Trey Moss (12 points, six assists, one turnover in 36 minutes). Gabe Dorsey finished with 13 points on 4-of-7 shooting, 3-of-6 from deep. Caleb Dorsey had six points and six rebounds.

Gabe Dorsey had to work hard to get any decent looks, but the Tribe’s offense still found ways to score with Lowe and Moss constantly attacking.

“The guards were getting to the paint and that really helped our offense a lot,” Williams said. “That gave us kick-out threes, even though we didn’t shoot it like we wanted to. Having the guards live in the paint and create shots for other guys is huge.”

Elon led 25-19 with 7:13 remaining in the first half, but the Tribe took control with a 12-0 run. Sean Houpt put W&M ahead (for good, it turned out) with left-corner 3-pointer to make it 26-25 with 5:11 left in the half. That was the Tribe’s first 3 after an 0-for-6 start.

Two possessions later, Dorsey knocked down a deep 3 from in front of Elon’s bench. Moss then drove to the glass and finished to make it 31-25 with 3:25 left. Defensively, W&M limited Elon to just 1-of-12 shooting over the final seven minutes of the first half.

The Tribe took its biggest lead at 57-42 on Williams’ left-handed hook with 11:09 left in the game. Elon wasn’t done and cut the margin to four (68-64) with 2:31 remaining. But W&M finished strong by making seven of its final eight free throws.

The Tribe held Elon to 44% shooting, including 7-of-24 from the arc.

“I thought our ball-screen coverage was really good against these guys,” Fischer said. “We talked about keeping them out of transition and being really good with ball screen, post defense and getting out on 3-point shooters.”

With so many players out of the lineup with injuries, it was a tough November and December for the Tribe. But January has started promising.

“Coach came into the locker room and … he didn’t say the games before didn’t matter, but conference games are more meaningful than non-conference games,” Lowe said. “We had a chance to start fresh against Elon, and we’re looking at it one game at a time.

“It was really huge to get this win tonight. Really big for morale and we’re going to keep it rolling into Saturday.”

The Tribe hosts Drexel Saturday at 2 p.m. The Dragons, picked third in the preseason poll, defeated UNCW 78-63 Thursday night and is 2-0 in league action.

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