Coming off a gut-wrenching setback two nights early and being dealt the blow of playing a Colonial Athletic Association road game without its second-leading scorer, the William & Mary men’s basketball team needed someone to step up in the worst way.
Juniors Nathan Knight and Matt Milon led the charge with 24 and 19 points, respectively. Knight added 12 rebounds and five assists for his 13th career double-double, while Milon canned 5-of-10 from long range for the second-straight game and chipped in a season-high seven rebounds. The Tribe (7-9, 3-1 CAA) was forced to play without junior Justin Pierce, who entered the game averaging 15.5 points, 9.2 rebounds and 3.6 assists per game, due to illness.
The freshman class also made its presence felt combining for 32 points, 14 rebounds and 12 assists among the quartet. Chase Audige scored 11 of his 13 in the second half, while L.J. Owens poured in 12 off the bench. Thornton Scott dished out a team-high six assists compared to just one turnover and Quinn Blair added three points and six rebounds in 17 minutes. Sprinkle in law student Paul Rowley’s five points, three rebounds a two blocked shots as well as the four-point, five-rebound, four-assist stat line of sophomore Luke Loewe and strong performances littered the Tribe side of the box score.
Defensively, W&M limited a Dragon team that entered the game scoring nearly 80 points per game to just 0.93 points per possession. Drexel (7-10, 1-3 CAA) connected on just 35 percent from the field and only 26.1 percent from 3-point range.
The Tribe roared out of the gates behind a 12-2 run and the lead was 20-6 on a Scott floater midway through the first frame. W&M’s advantage was eight at the intermission and Drexel closed to a little at four, 56-52, with 7:20 to play on a Coletrane Washington 3-pointer.
W&M answered with eight-straight points as part of an extended 18-5 run to put the game on ice. Milon (9) and Knight (7) combined for 16 of the 18 points during the spurt, including each of the first eight. MIlon canned three triples during the run, including back-to-back treys to end it, extending the Tribe margin to 74-57 with just 3:23 remaining.
How It Happened
– The Tribe opened the game on a 12-2 run, while holding Drexel to one of their first seven from the floor. Knight scored the opening two buckets of the game, before Rowley and Blair knocked down back-to-back 3-pointers.
– W&M’s lead jump to 20-6 with six-straight points. Knight scored eight of W&M’s first 18, including a dunk off a nice pick-and-roll feed from Scott. The rookie guard capped the run with a free throw line floater to push the W&M lead to 14 with 10:24 left.
– Drexel closed to within six points at the 6:27 mark thanks to a 9-2 run, sparked by Troy Harper. His fast-break 3-point play cut the deficit to 24-18. Harper led the Dragons with 17 points on the night.
– The margin was again 11, 29-18, with 4:30 remaining in the half after a Milon transition 3-pointer from Scott and a Knight dunk.
– The Dragons scored their final six points of the half at the free throw line, including a pair of Coletrane Washington with 26.3 seconds left, to draw within 34-29.
– Knight, who scored 15 first-half points, capped the opening 20 minutes with a step-back, buzzer-beating 3 to give W&M a 37-29 advantage at the intermission.
– The Tribe lead jumped back to double-digit thanks to five-straight points. Loewe scored on a driving lay-up, before Audige drilled a right-wing triple to push the lead to 42-31 just 1:15 into the second half.
– Drexel closed to a close at four thanks to a 9-2 run. Washington’s left-wing 3-pointer at the 7:20 cut the Tribe advantage to 56-52.
– W&M responded with eight-straight points as part of a 12-2 run to extend the lead back to double-digits. Knight scored seven during the run, including a strong and-1 finish to push the lead to 12. After a Camren Wynter jumper, Knight and Owens added floaters to extend the margin to 68-54 with 4:27 to play.
– Milon scored eight-straight points, including back-to-back 3-pointers. His fastbreak layup with 2:44 left push the lead to 76-59.
– W&M hit all six of its free throws over the final two minutes, and Owen’s provided the exclamation point with a dunk at the one-minute mark. The Tribe led by as much as 20, 84-64, following Scott’s free throws with 50 seconds left.
Inside the Numbers
– The Tribe shot 51.6 percent (16-of-31) from the field in the second half to finish the game at 48.4 percent (30-of-62) overall.
– W&M was a perfect 11-of-11 from the free throw line in the second half and finished the game at 88.2 percent (15-of-17) at the charity stripe.
– The Green and Gold dished out 20 assists on its 30 made field goals.
– W&M limited Drexel to just 35 percent (21-of-60) shooting from the field and only 26.1 percent (6-of-23) from 3-point range.
– The Green and Gold outscored Drexel by a wide 38-18 margin in the paint.
– The Tribe held a decisive 46-30 rebounding advantage against the Dragons.
W&M won for the fifth time in its last six trips to Philadelphia … The Tribe dished out 20 assists for the fourth time in the last six games and sixth time overall this season … W&M is 5-1 this season and 42-3 over the last nine years when dishing out 20 or more assists in a game … Junior Nathan Knight recorded his fourth double-double of the season and 13th of his Tribe career … He tallied a game-high 24 points, his eighth game of 20 or more points this season … Junior Matt Milon scored 19 points for the third-straight game and connected on 5-of-10 from 3 for the second time in the week … It marked his third game of five or more 3-pointers this season and seventh in his collegiate career … Sophomore Luke Loewe dished out a season-high four assists.
– The Tribe returns to a Kaplan Arena for the first of a season-long three-game homestand on Thursday, Jan. 10, as it welcomes Hofstra to Kaplan Arena. Tip-off is set for 7 p.m.
– The game will be streamed online at Tribe Athletics TV via Stretch Internet.
– 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.
The first Chesapeake Bank Tony Shaver Show of the season is set for Monday night, Jan. 7, from Paul’s Deli in Williamsburg. The weekly show begins on-site at 6:30 p.m., with the live interview airing from 7-7:30 p.m. Longtime Tribe play-by-play announcer Jay Colley will host the broadcast from Paul’s Deli at 761 Scotland Street in Williamsburg. Shows will be held Mondays from Jan. 7 through Feb. 25. The Chesapeake Bank Tony ShaverShow can be heard over the flagship stations of the Tribe Radio Network at 92.3 FM The Tide and 107.9 Bach FM. It will be streamed online at TribeAthletics.com as well.