WILLIAMSBURG — The game out of hand, or so it seemed, William & Mary gave one final push that cut a 15-point lead to three. But the hole was too deep, and there wasn’t enough time for the Tribe to reverse a 90-86 loss to North Carolina A&T Saturday at Kaplan Arena.
W&M led for much of the second half and it was a tie game with 6:04 remaining. But the Aggies scored seven of their 25 fast-break points in a 15-0 run that ended up deciding the outcome.
“We just continued to give up transition baskets, and they had so many run-outs on us,” Tribe coach Dane Fischer said. “Every time we made a run, we gave up some easy ones the other way. Really proud of the way our guys hung together and almost gave ourselves a chance down the stretch.
“Credit to A&T, I thought they played really well today. They played the game like they wanted to play it.”
Noah Collier led the Tribe (8-13, 3-5 CAA) with 22 points and 16 rebounds, both career highs. Gabe Dorsey added 21 points, also a career-high, on 7-of-15 shooting, 5-of-13 from the arc. Ben Wight finished with 13 points and five rebounds.
Despite starting 2-of-12 from the field, the Tribe ended up shooting 45.2% from the floor, 9-of-31 from 3. W&M won the boards 46-36 but didn’t help itself from the free throw line, where it went 11-of-20.
The Aggies shot 53% with 16 of its 33 baskets coming at or near the rim. The Tribe came in averaging 66 possessions a game. But with A&T dictating the tempo, each team had 82.
After an and-one layup by Wight, the game was tied at 66 with 6:04 remaining. Two minutes later, Webster Filmore’s transition layup gave A&T an 81-66 lead. The Aggies scored on eight consecutive possessions.
“We had a few turnovers in that run for sure,” Fischer said. “We got a couple of good looks that didn’t go for us and it led to some run-outs for them. A lot of those buckets we gave up were them in transition. Unfortunately, we couldn’t stop the run early enough.”
After the teams traded baskets, A&T led 83-68 with 1:43 remaining. But starting with a Collier and-one, the Tribe went on a 14-2 run in a span of 54 seconds. Two free throws by Collier made it a one-possession game at 85-82 with 36 seconds remaining.
The Aggies went 5-of-8 from the free throw line the rest of the way to seal it.
“I told the guys, I love the way we stuck together and fought,” Fischer said. “It’s a 40-minute game, and you’ve got to play for all 40 minutes.
“We almost gave ourselves a chance because the guys stuck together. I was really proud of that and it’s something we’ve got to use as momentum for us.”
It was the Tribe’s fourth game in a seven-day span. The first three were on the road — last Saturday at UNCW, Monday at Charleston, and Thursday at Delaware. W&M’s next game isn’t until Thursday night at home against Stony Brook.
“It was a tough run for us in terms of being on the road for seven days, which we knew was going to be a challenge,” Fischer said. “Obviously, coming back here and turning around and playing today was another challenge.
“That was our stretch during the season that looks a little funky, and at this point it’s come back Monday — these guys get a day off — and regroup and keep pressing forward. The good thing about basketball is you don’t usually have to wait a week to play.”