Late comeback falls short at UNCW

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(WYDaily/Courtesy of Tribe Athletics)
(WYDaily/Courtesy of Tribe Athletics)

Trailing by as much as 17 points in the second half and 15 with 3:50 remaining, William & Mary could have easily packed up and headed for the showers.

Instead, the Tribe valiantly rallied behind a reinvigorated offense and long-range marksmanship. In the end, UNCW connected on 22-of-26 from the free throw line in the second half and 9-of-10 in the final 1:06 to hold off the Green and Gold comeback in a  93-88 win at Trask Coliseum on Thursday night.

Freshman Chase Audige and junior Nathan Knight highlighted the night for W&M (7-13, 3-5 CAA). Audige registered a career-high 24 points on 8-of-11 shooting to go with five rebounds and career-high five assists.

Knight notched his fourth double-double in the last five games with 24 points, 10 rebounds and a career-high six assists. He also moved into second place on W&M’s career blocked shots list.

The UNCW (8-13, 4-4 CAA) lead ballooned to as much as 17 points with 6:20 remaining and the margin was 15, 80-65, with 3:50 remaining. The Tribe did not go quietly drawing within seven, 82-75, thanks to a 10-2 run highlighted by the play of Audige.

Junior Matt Milon, who finished with 18 points on six triples, knocked down three 3-pointers in the final 21 seconds to narrow the deficit to as little as 91-88 with 3.8 seconds left. His final triple of the sequence came off a UNCW turnover and gave W&M a glimmer of hope. The Seahawks though hit 9-of-10 at the free throw line in the final 1:06, including the clinching two after getting the ball in bounds to Ty Gadson on its final possession.

The combo Kai Toews and Devontae Cacok led the Seahawks. Toews scored a career-high 23 points and dished out seven assists, while Cacok tied the UNCW record with his 50th career double-double on 22 points and 16 rebounds.

The Tribe jumped out to an early lead behind the play of Audige, who scored W&M’s first seven points and found sophomore Luke Loewe for a lay-up to give W&M a 9-3 lead just over three minutes into the contest. UNCW though opened up double-digit halftime advantage thanks to two key categories. The Seahawks pulled down 10 offensive rebounds in the opening 20 minutes and turned that into a 9-0 advantage in second-chance points. UNCW also turned seven W&M first-half turnovers into an 8-1 cushion in points off turnovers and the Seahawks led 39-28 at the break.

How It Happened 
– Audige scored the Tribe’s first seven points and then found Loewe in transition for a lay-up to give W&M a 9-3 lead and force a UNCW timeout at the 16:38 mark.
– UNCW scored 12 points in a row to take the lead for good. Jaylen Simms and Ty Taylor knocked down back-to-back 3-pointers to put the home team in front. Jay Estime’s baseline jumper at the 10:18 mark gave the Seahawks a 19-12 lead.
– The Seahawk lead jumped to double-digits for the first time on a Toews old-fashion 3-play play with 4:23 left in the first half.
– The Tribe scored four-straight points, including a Knight old-fashion 3-point play, to close the gap to 31-25 with 3:55 remaining.
– The Seahawks scored eight of the half’s final 11 points to take a 39-28 lead into the locker room. Cacok had 12 points and 13 rebounds for a first-half double-double.
– UNCW started the second half on a 7-2 run to increase its lead to 16. Toews fed Cacok for a dunk to increase the Seahawks margin to 46-30 just over a minute into the period.
– The Green and Gold responded with an 8-2 run to cut the gap back to eight. Freshman L.J. Owensand junior Justin Pierce hit back-to-back triples to close the deficit to 54-46 with 14:54 left.
– The UNCW lead was again 12, 58-46, after a Taylor layup at the 13:57 mark. W&M scored six-straight points to close within six. Owens canned his second 3-pointer and Knight added three in a row to slice the margin to 58-52 just 1:38 later.
– Ty Gadson answered with a personal 7-0 run to extend the UNCW lead to 65-52 following a pair of free throws at the 11:13 mark.
– After a Knight 3-point play close the gap to 10, UNCW used an 8-1 run to push the lead to its largest at 17. Jeantal Cylla scored four straight for the Seahawks before a pair of Estime free throws extended the advantage to 75-58 with 6:20 left.
– Audige scored seven-straight Tribe points as part of a 10-2 run to close the Tribe within seven. Milon’s 3-pointer with 1:51 left cut the UNCW lead to 82-75.
– Toews scored four in a row to push the lead back to 11, 86-75, with just 1:06 left.
– W&M closed the game with a flurry. Milon knocked down three 3-pointers in the final 21 seconds. His triple with 3.8 seconds remaining after a UNCW turnover brought the Tribe within 91-88.
– The Tribe was forced to foul, and Gadson hit both free throws for the final margin. In total, UNCW hit 9-of-10 at the free throw line in the final 1:06.

Inside the Numbers 
– W&M was 14-of-37 from 3-point range (37.8 percent) on the night. After hitting just 4-of-19 (21.1 percent) from deep in the first half, the Tribe connected on 10-of-18 (55.6 percent) in the second half.
– The Tribe shot 51.7 percent (31-of-60) from the field, including 60.6 percent (20-of-33) in the second half.
– UNCW connected at a 50.8 percent clip (30-of-59) for the game and 62.5 percent (15-of-24) in the second half.
– The Seahawks outscored W&M 28-12 at the free throw line. UNCW hit 28-of-35 (80 percent) from the charity stripe, including 22-of-26 (84.6 percent) in the second half. The Tribe also shot 80 percent from the free throw line but hit just 12-of-15.
– UNCW turned seven first-half W&M turnovers into an 8-1 advantage in points off turnovers. In total, the Seahawks held an 18-11 advantage in points off turnovers.
– The Seahawks pulled down 10 offensive rebounds in the first half, including five from Cacok, and outscored the Tribe, 9-0, in second-chance points. In the second half, UNCW had just one offensive rebound and W&M held a 10-2 advantage in second-chance points. For the game, the Seahawks held an 11-10 advantage.

Notes
With his 24 points on the night, junior Nathan Knight became the 23rd player in W&M to score over 1,200 career points … He currently ranks 21st in program history with 1,220 career points … With his two blocks at UNCW, Knight moved into a tie for second place on the Tribe’s career blocked shots list with Adam Duggins (2000-03) … Both players have 139 career rejections … Knight tallied his fourth double-double in the last five games … Knight has seven double-doubles this season and 16 in his career … Knight tied his career high with six assists … Freshman Chase Audige scored a career-high 24 points and dished out a career-high five assists … Junior Matt Milon knocked down six 3-pointers for the fourth time in his Tribe career and the second time this season … His six triples are tied for the 15th most in school history … His 16 3-point attempts are the third most in program history and the most since 2010 … W&M’s 37 attempted 3-pointers rank sixth in school history … The Tribe knocked down double-digit 3-pointers for the seventh time this season and fourth time in CAA play … The 14 3-pointers are the second most in a game this season.

Up Next 
– The Tribe wraps up the Southern road swing in the CAA at Charleston on Saturday, Jan. 26. Tip-off is set for 4 p.m. from TD Arena in Charleston.
– The game will be broadcast on CAA.TV.
– Tribe fans can 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.

Catch up on William & Mary men’s basketball at the ‘Luncheon with Tony’ series returns on Tuesday, Jan. 29. The monthly luncheons featuring head coach Tony Shaver will be held at Anna’s Brick Oven and gives fans an inside look at Tribe basketball. The luncheon will include a buffet for $13.50. Anna’s Brick Oven is located at 2021 Richmond Road in Williamsburg. The ‘Luncheon with Tony’ series provides fans the opportunity to get Coach Shaver’s thoughts on the Tribe’s season and upcoming games as well as talk W&M basketball with select Tribe players and the Green and Gold coaching staff.

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