WILLIAMSBURG — The first eight minutes couldn’t have gone much better Saturday afternoon for William & Mary. The final eight minutes couldn’t have gone much worse.
After jumping out to a double-digit lead and keeping it in that vicinity for most of the game, the Tribe missed 14 of its final 15 shots in a 67-53 loss to Norfolk State at Kaplan Arena. W&M led 51-43 with 8:42 remaining but was outscored 24-2 the rest of the way.
“We’re certainly disappointed in how that went down the stretch,” W&M coach Dane Fischer said. “We got off to a really good start on offense and probably got a little bit comfortable in thinking it would be easier than it ended up being.
“We just didn’t have that same edge we’ve been playing with. I thought there were stretches of it or flashes of it, but not what we’ve had the last few games.”
Norfolk State didn’t take its first lead until 4:45 remained on the clock, and by that point the Tribe was on the ropes. The Spartans ended up making nine of their final 13 shots.
In addition to missing all but one of its final 15 attempts, the Tribe (4-7) went 2-of-8 from the free throw line in the final 7:14.
Gabe Dorsey finished with eight points, all of which came in the first half. He picked up his third foul less than four minutes into the second half and his fourth at the 10-minute mark.
“Obviously, Gabe getting his third and fourth foul early on in the second half hurt us because he was making shots and is obviously a huge part of our offense,” Fischer said. “That was a factor for us.”
Another was rebounding, which had been one of W&M’s stronger points of late. The Spartans (6-4) won the boards 42-28, the worst margin of the season for the Tribe. NSU had a 13-8 edge on the offensive end and outscored W&M 9-0 on second-chance points.
“I think it was a lack of effort on our part and a lack of attention to it,” Fischer said. “Norfolk State had really struggled keeping teams off the defensive glass and I didn’t think we had anywhere near the look we’ve had lately other than a couple of stretches.”
William & Mary hit its first three shots, each from 3-point range, and led 9-2 just over three minutes in. The Tribe took its biggest lead at 20-9 on a Nelson 3-pointer with 14:06 left in the first half.
W&M led 51-43 on Chris Mullins’ drive to the basket with 8:42 remaining. That turned out to be the Tribe’s last field goal as it missed its final eight attempts.
With exams coming up, the Tribe’s next game isn’t until Dec. 18 at UMBC.
“We’ll obviously place exams as the top priority as it needs to be,” Fischer said. “These guys need a little bit of a break, so we’ll give them a break on the front end and work around their schedules, whether it be workouts and practices or a combination.”