TOWSON, Md. – Playing without All-CAA senior Omar Prewitt, the William & Mary men's basketball team dropped a heartbreaker at Towson, 82-80, on Saturday afternoon. Mike Morsell's 3-pointer with 7.6 seconds remaining completed a Tiger second-half rally and snapped the Tribe's four-game winning streak. W&M fell to 13-10 overall and 7-5 in CAA play, while Towson improved to 14-10 and 7-5 in league action.
Senior Daniel Dixon topped W&M with 23 points to go along with four rebounds and four assists. Freshman Nathan Knight scored a career-high 15 points on 4-of-6 from the floor and 7-of-8 at the free throw line. He added a team-best five rebounds and blocked five shots. Junior Greg Malinowski tallied 12 points on 4-of-6 from 3-point range, four rebounds and four assists, while freshman Justin Pierce chipped in 10 points and five rebounds off the bench. Prewitt, who is W&M's second-leading scorer at 14.6 points per game, missed the game after suffering an injury in the second half of the Tribe's win over Northeastern on Thursday.
A quick six-point spurt in the early part of the second half extended W&M's 13-point half-time lead to its largest at 17. Dixon scored all six points on the run. After he knocked down a 3-pointer, junior Jack Whitman made a big block on the defensive end. On the ensuing Tribe possession, Dixon drove the left side of the lane, scored and was fouled. His old-fashion 3-point play pushed the margin to 56-39 with 16:46 left.
The Tribe lead remained 16, 61-45, following a Pierce free throw at the 14:10 mark. Towson's John Davis scored nine-straight points as part of an 11-0 run, drawing the home team within five points. Davis' old-fashion 3-point play followed by a Brian Starr jumper narrowed the gap to 61-56 with 10:36 remaining.
Five-straight Towson points on a Morsell 3-pointer and Starr lay-up cut the deficit to 68-66 with 6:50 remaining. After a Malinowski triple kept the Green and Gold on top, William Adala Moto hit a short jumper, and Eddie Keith pulled the Tigers even at 73 on a pair of free throws, the second coming at the 3:49 mark.
Knight briefly put W&M back in front, 75-73, with two at the charity stripe, but Moto scored four-straight points to give Towson its first lead since the opening minutes of the game. His lay-up at the 3:06 mark put the Tigers in front, 77-75.
W&M did not go quietly, scoring five-straight points. After a Knight free throw, junior David Cohn knocked down a jumper with a minute and a half remaining to give W&M a 78-77 lead. On the ensuing Tribe possession, Malinowski hit a cutting Dixon for a lay-up to give the Tribe a three-point cushion, 80-77, with 45.2 seconds left.
Starr knocked down a pair of free throws with just over 23 seconds remaining to narrow the gap to one. On the in-bound play, Towson bumped and knocked the ball away from Dixon, and the Tribe retained possession along the sideline with 20.5 tickets left. Malinowski was tripped up on the sidelines inbound play, without a foul call, and the ball went out of play, giving possession back to the Tigers.
Morsell knocked down the right side 3-pointer with 7.6 seconds left to give Towson an 82-80 lead. Following a Tiger timeout, Dixon had a good look at a game-winning 3-pointer of his own, but it hit off the front rim as time expired. W&M finished the game shooting 46.2 percent (24-of-52) from the floor and connected on 10-of-22 (45.5 percent) from 3-point range. The Tribe shot 71 percent (22-of-31) at the free throw line.
On the other side, Towson shot 41.2 percent (28-of-68) from field and hit on 20-of-27 (74.1 percent) from the free throw line. The Tigers held a 49-27 advantage on the glass and outscored W&M, 23-6, in second-chance points. Keith led Towson with 16 points to go with six rebounds, while Davis tallied a double-double on 11 points and 15 rebounds. Starr and Morsell rounded out the double-digit scorers for the Tigers with 13 and 11, respectively.
After hitting on just one of its first four attempts from the floor, W&M caught fire, hitting seven straight to open up a first-half lead. A Paul Rowley 3-pointer from the right side just five minutes into the game started a 7-0 Tribe run. Knight and Dixon added buckets to increase the margin to 13-6 at the 13:40 mark. The advantage ballooned to 19-10 on a Pierce corner 3-pointer with 11:57 remaining in the opening half.
The Tigers used a 7-0 run capped by a Keith 3-pointer at the 9:09 mark to close the gap to a single point, 21-20. Junior Connor Burchfield knocked down a left wing 3-pointer and Cohn rattled home a leaner as W&M answered with five-straight points. The Green and Gold re-established its nine-point advantage, 36-27, on a pair of Pierce free throws with 4:43 left in the first half.
Back-to-back baskets from Starr and Zane Martin cut the Tribe lead to 36-31 less than a minute later, but W&M closed the half on an 8-0 run to take a double-digit lead into the locker room. Dixon drilled his second 3-pointer of the opening half at two-minute mark, before junior Oliver Tot made a pair of free throws to increase the margin to double-digits. Malinowski provided the final dagger of the half, pulling down a rebound on the defensive end and then knocking down a 3-pointer with less than 30 seconds remaining. The triple was W&M's seventh of the first half and pushed the lead to 46-33 at the break.
(© 2017 WVEC)