WILLIAMSBURG — Chase Koontz and Drew Wilke spent Monday night at the Sadler Center on William and Mary's campus hoping to witness history. The Tribe men's basketball team, for the third time in seven years, was a win away from the college's first-ever NCAA tournament bid.
"We've been to pretty much all of the home games this season, including most of the conference games, so we weren't going to miss this," said Koontz. Fans began filing into the Commonwealth Auditorium about 6:30 Monday night, and by the 7 p.m. tip-off about 100 people had gathered.
For the third time in as many tries, the Tribe came up short. A long jumper by Marcus Thornton bounced off the rim as time expired in a 75-74 loss to Delaware in the Colonial Athletic Association championship game.
This one may have been the cruelest. The Tribe had rallied from as many as 12 points down in the first half. With 80 seconds to play W&M held a six-point lead.
There was plenty for the W&M students to cheer about early on, as Marcus Thornton scored nine points in the first eight minutes to give the Tribe an early lead.
The cheers grew louder throughout the first half, as friends and classmates were shown on the big-screen television at the game.
"That's something that's neat about William and Mary," Koontz said. "We have a lot of good friends on the team which makes it even more special."
Wilke and Koontz were prepared for the improbable. Both admitted they had researched possible destinations for first round NCAA matchups in preparation of a Tribe win.
"I would definitely fly out for that," Wilke said. "A lot of students said the same thing — that they'd go, no question."