BALTIMORE, MD-The William and Mary men's basketball team fell in heartbreaking fashion to the Delaware Blue Hens, 75-74, in the 2014 Colonial Athletic Association Championship Game on Monday night in the Baltimore Arena. W&M led by six points with 1:18 remaining, but Delaware scored the game's final seven points and junior Marcus Thornton's game-winning 3-point attempt in the closing seconds was off the mark. The Tribe fell to 20-12 on the year, while UD improved to 25-9.
Thornton led the Tribe with 22 points on 8-of-15 from the floor, including a 4-of-7 effort from 3-point range. He also added four rebounds and four assists for the Green and Gold. Senior Tim Rusthoven scored 16 points on 8-of-10 from the floor to go with three blocked shots, and freshman Omar Prewitt scored all 14 of his points in the second half to go with five rebounds.
After a Davon Usher 3-pointer with 3:24 remaining cut the Tribe lead to one, W&M scored five straight points and appeared on the brink of its first conference championship. Thornton knocked down a tough, step-back jumper to beat the shot clock with 2:05 left, before Prewitt canned a 3-pointer from the left side, extending the Tribe cushion to 74-68 with 1:18 remaining.
The Blue Hens scored the games next seven points to take a 75-74 lead. A Jarvis Threat 3-point play at the 5- second mark cut the deficit back to one. With 25 ticks left, Delaware found Carl Baptiste in the post, and the UD bigman bowled through Tribe sophomore Sean Sheldon for a lay-up to put the regular season champions on top with 12.8 seconds remaining.
Following a W&M timeout, the Tribe put the ball in the hands of Thornton. The First-Team All-CAA guard got a clean look from the right side, but his 3-point attempt was long and the Blue Hens celebrated their first CAA Championship.
The Tribe finished the game shooting 52.5 percent (31-of-59) from the field and connected down 9-of-24 (37.5 percent) from long range. The free throw line proved costly for the Green and Gold as it hit just 3-of-11 from the charity stripe. W&M outrebounded UD, 36-34, blocked seven shots and dished out 15 assists.
The Blue Hens finished the night at 43.5 percent (27-of-62) from the floor, including a 6-of-20 effort from 3-point range. Delaware shot 83.3 percent (15-of-18) from the free throw line and was 10-of-11 in the second half.
Like its semifinal affair with Towson, the champiotnship tilt opened in back and forth fashion before back-to-back 3-pointers from senior Brandon Britt and Thornton opened up a five-point Tribe advantage. Thornton sliced to the tin for a lay-up, putting W&M in front, 18-10, just under six minutes into the contest.
Delaware answered with seven straight, closing the gap to 18-17 on a pair of Usher free throws. W&M twice pushed the lead back to four on a Kyle Gaillard conventional 3-point play and a Daniel Dixon 3-pointer, but Baptiste scored seven straight for the Blue Hens eventually tying the game at 24 and forcing a W&M timeout at the 9:30 mark. Threatt and Kyle Anderson continued the UD run with a lay-up and 3-pointer, respectively, as the spurt eventually measured out at 19-6 and gave the Blue Hens a 29-24 lead with 7:55 remaining.
Rusthoven scored three straight buckets to put the Tribe back on top. Thornton found him for a cutting lay-up before a jump hook gave the Green and Gold a 30-29 with just over five minutes remaining. Baptiste answered on the ensuing Blue Hen possession to give the top seed a one-point advantage.
After a Saddler lay-up, Britt drove and kicked to Thornton for a 3-pointer from the right side to pull W&M even at 33 with 2:12 remaining. The Blue Hens scored the half's final six points as Saddler drove for two, before dishing to Baptiste for a lay-up. Threatt provided the final halftime margin, 39-33, with a pull-up jumper from the right side just before the halftime horn.
Delaware tallied eight of the first 10 points out of the locker room to take its largest lead of the game. Anderson drilled two 3-pointers from the left wing around a Batpiste 10-foot jumper, extending the UD lead to 47-35 with 16:35 and prompting a W&M timeout.
After not scoring in the opening half, Prewitt scored nine of W&M's next 11 points, closing the Green and Gold within five points. He brought the Tribe faithful to its feet with a steal and fast-break dunk to cut the margin to eight. His 3-pointer from the left side at the 12:01 mark cut the deficit to 53-48.
The Delaware lead went back to seven points on a pair of Threatt free throws, but W&M answered again to close within two. Dixon canned a 3-pointer from the right side, before a steal from Gaillard led to a transition lay-up by Britt to slice the gap to 55-53 with 9:20 left.
A Thornton 3-pointer from the top of the key out of a timeout pulled the Tribe within one, 59-58, at the 7:15 mark. A deep Davon Usher 3-pointer from the right side extended Delaware's advantage back to four, before W&M ripped off a 9-1 run to take its first lead of the second half.
Sheldon started the run by putting back his own miss on the offensive end. After UD hit 1-of-2 from the charity stripe, a Rusthoven putback followed by a Prewitt lay-up gave W&M the lead. Thornton capped the spurt with a triple from left side to give the Tribe a 69-65 lead with 3:36 remaining.
Baptiste led all scorers with 24 points on 9-of-11 from the field and eight rebounds. Threatt finished with 18 points, seven rebounds and four assists, while Saddled added 16 points and five assists. Usher just missed a double-double with eight points, 10 rebounds and five assists.
Britt finished with seven points for the Green and Gold, and Dixon added six points and four rebounds off the bench. Sophomore Terry Tarpey led W&M with eight rebounds, while Gaillard added five points, five rebounds and four assists.