Coming into Wednesday night’s Colonial Athletic Association contest, the William & Mary Tribe entered Matthews Arena on a seven-game losing streak. In order to mix things up and infuse some energy in his club, Tribe head coach Tony Shaver brought out a new starting lineup that sent Kyle Gaillard, Brandon Britt and Matt Rum to the bench. Unfortunately for William & Mary, the move didn’t work as the Northeastern Huskies continued their unbeaten run through the CAA thus far this season.
The Huskies (12-7, 7-0), who entered the game on a six-game winning streak and at first place in the CAA, defeated their conference foe William & Mary (7-11, 1-6) 95-91. Northeastern is also off to their best start in conference play in their seven-year history in the CAA, since joining the league in 2005-2006.
While the Huskies remain undefeated and atop the CAA, this is the second-straight Wednesday night contest against a conference foe that head coach Bill Coen’s team failed to put away when they held a big lead. Last Wednesday, Northeastern led by as many as 13 points against Hofstra before squeaking out a five-point victory.
On Wednedsay, the Tribe did not fall without putting up an incredible fight. Down by 15 points at halftime, William & Mary stormed back, tied the ball game and competed all the way through two overtime periods before eventually falling to the top team in the conference. Coaching might be the reason behind the Huskies’ second half slumps, but it might also be the parity in the conference.
“I think that’s just CAA Basketball,” head coach Bill Coen testified. “The coaching staffs and players are very familiar with each other. You have to keep your composure and find a way to win.”
Similarly to the Hofstra game, the Huskies held the Tribe’s leading scorer, sophomore Marcus Thornton, scoreless in the first half. He then erupted for 23 points while shooting 7-12 from field and 5-7 from three-point land in the second half and overtimes. Tim Rusthoven also added 14 points of is own following the intermission as part of is career-high 25 points.
“I just changed my mindset,” Thornton explained. “I started the game off a little too passive, but really looked for my shot in the second half.”
Thornton and the Pride’s overall resiliency is definitely something for William & Mary to hang their hat on. Considering they’re now on an eight-game losing streak and haven’t beaten a Division I opponent since Dec. 8, the Tribe are really in need of morale victories.
“I told our guys after the game that there was little bit of a mixture of anger and pride in me following the game,” head coach Tony Shaver said. “But I think we rediscovered who we are offensively tonight.”
Moving forward, the Tribe face another top conference matchup against Towson on Saturday. On the other side, Northeastern must learn to put away opponents, especially considering the CAA is pretty equal. With George Mason coming up next for the Huskies on Sunday, Northeastern better put away the Patriots if they have a chance to.
Jake Fischer is the CAA Columnist for Rant Sports-NCAA Basketball. Make sure to follow Jake on Twitter @JakeLFischer.