WILLIAMSBURG, Va. — Her team in need of someone to help Sydney Wagner with the scoring load, senior guard Nyla Pollard had a career day in William & Mary's Colonial Athletic Association opener Saturday afternoon at Kaplan Arena.
Pollard scored 21 points, 15 coming in the first half, and made a key steal in the final minutes to lead the Tribe to a 63-56 win over Hofstra. Pollard, whose previous high was 14 points, shot 8-of-13 from the field and made all four of her free throw attempts.
That helped make up for a relatively off day by Wagner, who finished with 19 points on 6-of-19 shooting. And it gave W&M (4-2, 1-0 CAA) its fifth conference-opening win in the last six years.
"Great game," W&M coach Ed Swanson said of Pollard's day. "She's not comfortable being a scorer because she's never had to be. But she has the ability to be a stat-stuffer.
"She can put up 10-to-15 points. She can rebound the basketball and force turnovers. And she's a great passer. … We're hoping she can continue this upward climb in her offensive game."
Before Saturday, the shots Pollard had taken at William & Mary was 11, which came on Dec. 20 at Norfolk State. The most baskets she had made was six as a freshman against USC Upstate.
And she was a stat-stuffer. Pollard had a team-high five assists, three rebounds, and only one turnover in 39 minutes.
Pollard is known for her defense, and that came into play late. After cutting a 15-point lead to 57-52, the Pride (2-5, 0-1) had a chance to make it a one-possession game with just over two minutes remaining.
Instead, Pollard swiped the ball from Rosi Nicholson and was fouled driving in for a layup. Her two free throws pushed the lead back to seven, and Hofstra never was able to make it a one-possession game.
"That's what Nyla does," Swanson said. "My three seniors — Nyla Pollard, Gabby Rogers and Bailey Eichner — they make plays like that. Everybody makes a great 3-point shot and a driving layup. They make plays on the defensive end."
Emma Krause came off the bench to score eight points in 18 minutes. Bre Bellamy, who had started the previous five games, missed much of practice this week with a knee injury. She also came off the bench and contributed six points and six rebounds in 34 minutes.
W&M set season highs in points (63), field goal percentage (.426), and free throw attempts (18). The Tribe also had a season-low nine turnovers while forcing 18.
Saturday's game was scheduled to start at 2 p.m. but was delayed 90 minutes while Hofstra awaited for all its COVID-19 test results.
"I always think that's toughest on the home team because we were up here all ready to play at 2," Swanson said. "Then we had to sit around in the locker room and wait for all these results to come in.
But I have to tip my hat to my team. They came out really prepared with great energy."
With the CAA's scheduling format this season, the design of which is to minimize travel and exposure to COVID-19, the Tribe will host Hofstra again Sunday at 2 p.m.