Monday, February 6, 2023

Defense Sparks W&M Men’s Basketball to Win over Mary Baldwin

William & Mary versus Mary Baldwin on Nov. 27, 2021 (Courtesy of Tribe Athletics)

WILLIAMSBURG — William & Mary (W&M) men’s basketball picked up the defensive pressure and blew by Mary Baldwin, 87-50, on Saturday afternoon at Kaplan Arena.

Sophomore Ben Wight led five Tribe players in double figures with a career-high 20 points on 8-of-12 shooting and added a team-high seven rebounds. Classmate Connor Kochera turned in a strong all-around performance with a season-high 18 points to go with five rebounds and career-highs of seven assists and six steals.

The Tribe used a pair of runs led by its defense to put away the Fighting Squirrels (0-5). Trailing 26-19 with 9:10 remaining in the opening half, W&M scored seven straight points to retake the lead as the starting point to what turned into a 25-5 overall run during an eight-minute stretch.

During the extended run, sophomore Yuri Covington (8), Kochera (6) and Wight (6) combined for 20 of the team’s 25 points. Covington capped the run with five-straight points, including a fast-break dunk off a steal with 1:22 remaining to push the margin to 44-30. Defensively, W&M limited Mary Baldwin to 3-of-14 shooting and five turnovers to spark the run.

After finishing off the first half in style, the Tribe was even stronger to start the second. W&M held the visitors to just one point over the opening 9:20 of the second half as the Fighting Squirrels missed all 14 of its shots during the stretch to go along with four turnovers.

During the 18-1 run, W&M scored 16 points in the paint with the final two coming on a pair of Langdon Hatton free throws with 13:39 remaining in the contest. The Green and Gold led by more than 30 points for
the final 9:40 of the contest. 

For the game, the Tribe defensively held Mary Baldwin to 27.4% (17-of-62) shooting, including just 8-of-29 (27.6%) from 3-point range. On the other side, the Tribe shot 49.3% (34-of-69) from the field, including 50% (18-fo-36) in the second half. The Green and Gold dominated the glass to the tune of 54-29 and dished out 19 assists on its 34 made field goals. The Tribe was also 13-of-15 (86.7%) at the free throw line.

Mary Baldwin started the game hot, hitting five of its first eight shots, including four 3-pointers Jaden Ignacio led the charge as his second-straight 3-pointer gave the visitor a 14-6 lead just under four minutes into the game.

W&M answered with a 12-2 run to move in front. Freshman Julian Lewis and junior Rainers Hermanovskis both knocked down 3-pointers, while the Tribe scored three buckets in the paint, including a Lewis fast-break lay-up to give W&M an 18-16 lead with 11:54 left in the first half.

Senior Quinn Blair tallied 11 points to go with six rebounds, while Covington and Hatton both scored 10 points apiece. Fraley led Mary Baldwin with 14 points, and Ignacio added 10 points and four assists.

The Tribe returns to action on Wednesday night when it travels to Navy, who won the Patriot League regular season last year and knocked off Virginia earlier this season. Tip-off is set for 7 p.m. in Annapolis and the game will be streamed on ESPN+. Tribe fans can catch the men’s basketball action over the Tribe Sports Network with Jay Colley on the call. Locally in Williamsburg, fans can listen in on The Tide 92.3 FM.

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