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Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Tribe Drops Heartbreaker to Spartans in Season Opener

(Tribe Athletics)

WILLIAMSBURG — In a back-and-forth contest, Bella Nascimento’s potential game-winning 3-point attempt wouldn’t go as time expired, and William & Mary women’s basketball fell to Norfolk State in the season opener, 66-64.

Nylah Young, making her debut for the Tribe after transferring into the program, posted a game-high 29 points to go with nine rebounds, leading the way for W&M.

The Green and Gold came out of the gate hot on the defensive and offensive ends, with Young scoring the team’s first eight points, as the Tribe led 8-2 with 6:14 to go in the first quarter.

The staunch defense continued for the hosts, holding the Spartans to 3-for-16 from the floor, on their way to a 15-7 lead through 10 minutes.

Anahi-Lee Cauley’s first bucket in Green and Gold, plus four points from Young, gave the Tribe a 21-9 advantage with 7:24 to go in the half.

Bella Nascimento’s second 3-pointer of the game minutes later would give W&M their largest lead of the evening at 31-11.

Norfolk State responded well, however, showing why they were an NCAA Tournament team a year ago. The Spartans used 15-0 run over the last 3:59 of the half to narrow the Tribe lead to just five at the break.

Through the first 20 minutes the Tribe shot 38% from the floor and 8-for-10 from the line. NSU was 25% and 10-for-13 respectively.

The Spartans maintained their run coming out of halftime, eventually grabbing their first lead of the game with 5:55 to go in the period, 35-33.

Nascimento, who scored 10 points in her W&M debut, drained her third 3-pointer of the game to give the Tribe the lead briefly, before Norfolk State scored eight of the next 10 points to lead 44-36. They remained ahead 44-40 after three quarters of play.

A 10-3 Spartan run in the first three minutes of the fourth put them up 54-43. The teams then traded buckets, with the Tribe getting contributions from Kayla Rolph, Cassidy Geddes, Nascimento and Young to make it 59-51 with 3:56 to play.

Rolph drained two free throws moments later, and another layup by Young cut the Spartan lead to four.

Young, who was a perfect 11-for-11 from the line, added her final two free throws to make it 63-61 with 54 seconds left.

After a made Spartan-jumper, Rolph converted an and-one, and the score was 65-64 with 16 seconds to play.

Rolph finished with 13 points and nine boards off the bench for the Tribe.

W&M immediately fouled and NSU went 1-of-2 from the line, setting up Nascimento’s 26-footer that would have won the game. However, the shot was well contested by the defense and unable to draw iron as the Spartans escaped with a 66-64 win.

The Tribe finished the night 37% from the field, but just 5-for-28 from three. They were 21-for-29 from the line for 72.4%. NSU shot 37% on the night as well.

The Spartans had four players in double-figures, led by Kierra Wheeler’s 17. W&M won the battle on the boards 41-36.

Up Next
The Tribe returns home on Friday to take on in-state foe VCU. The game will tip at 7 p.m. at Kaplan Arena and be broadcast on FloHoops.

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