W&M comes back, beats Charleston in CAA quarterfinal

William and Mary will play Towson (pictured) in Sunday's 5 p.m. CAA semifinal.

Tony Shaver was so torqued off at his William and Mary team in the first minute of the second half, he called a timeout just 51 seconds in. Might he divulge what he said to his players?

“No, I won’t repeat that,” he said with a smile.

Suffice to say that Shaver’s message resonated. The Tribe took off from there, climbing out of a 14-point hole to win going away against the College of Charleston 70-59 in Saturday’s last CAA tournament quarterfinal at First Mariner Arena.

The third-seeded Tribe (19-11) earned a semifinal date against No. 2 Towson on Sunday at 5 p.m., after Delaware faces Northeastern in the first game.

William and Mary’s second-half turnaround was striking, as it outscored Charleston 42-19. The Tribe shot 56 percent from the field in the second half while the Cougars shot 26 percent. W&M defended with more effort, outrebounded CofC 21-18 in the second half and didn’t allow second-chance points.

“We started the (second) half like we played the first half,” Shaver said. “We did not execute our opening play. We had a turnover and we let them drive down the middle of the lane for an uncontested layup.”

Indeed, Anthony Thomas’ driving layup on Charleston’s first possession gave the Cougars a 42-28 lead and prompted Shaver to burn a timeout with 19:09 left.

“I was pretty sure at that point we weren’t going to win if we continued that process,” Shaver said. “I did challenge the guys a little bit right there. It’s one thing for a coach to challenge, it’s another thing for the kids to accept it. They buckled up and played a tremendous 18 minutes from there.”

Sixth-seeded College of Charleston (14-18) outplayed and outscored the Tribe in four of six halves this season, yet W&M won two of three games because it rose to the occasion at the right time. W&M dug out of a similar double-figure deficit for a 74-63 win in Williamsburg behind a sublime performance from Marcus Thornton.

On Saturday, however, the Tribe’s comeback featured a more comprehensive effort. Thornton and Brandon Britt led with 16 points apiece, but they had plenty of help.

Terry Tarpey was superb on defense and delivered nine points, eight rebounds, two blocks and a steal. Daniel Dixon hit a couple of 3-pointers and grabbed five rebounds. Rookie of the Year Omar Prewitt hit just one bucket, but made it count: a banked 3-pointer from beyond the key – he didn’t call “glass” – with the shot clock running out that gave the Tribe a 61-57 lead with 4:00 remaining.

“I just felt we needed to play better in the second half,” Britt said. “I thought we needed to come out with more energy and we had to get stops. We didn’t get down. Everybody didn’t keep their head down. We just came out in the second half and played hard.”

Charleston made its first two shots of the second half. Afterward, the Cougars shot 6-for-29. After hitting six 3-pointers in the first half, they were 0-for-10 from deep in the second half. Willis Hall led Charleston with 15 points, but missed all five shots in the second half.

“The second half was kind of our season, in 20 minutes there,” Charleston coach Doug Wojcik said. “We played a great first half. Our effort’s been just fantastic. I can’t fault the guys for any of that. At the end of the day, we don’t get to the free throw line enough.”

“We had wide open looks,” he added. “We just don’t make them.”

W&M caught the Cougars at 53 on a Dixon 3-pointer. The Tribe scored on six of seven possessions to turn a 51-48 deficit into a 58-53 lead. Britt capped the run with a traditional three-point play at the 6:12 mark.

Prewitt’s 3-pointer provided some cushion. Charleston came up empty on three consecutive possessions, while Thornton hit a jump shot and Tim Rusthoven tipped in a Thornton miss for a 65-59 lead.

W&M earns a third crack at Towson. The Tribe lost both games to the Tigers, including a 70-68 last-second heartbreaker a week ago at Towson.

“We’ve got to rebound the ball better, is probably the biggest thing,” Shaver said. “We’ve got to make more shots. They’re a good defensive ballclub. They’re long, they’re athletic, they’re very physical. We’ve got to rebound the ball a little bit better.

“You know what? Towson’s really good, but so are we. We look forward to the opportunity.”