By Jared Foretek, Correspondent
7:45 PM EST, February 22, 2014
WILLIAMSBURG — Behind a hobbled Marcus Thornton's 25 points, William and Mary bounced back from Wednesday's drubbing at the hands of College of Charleston to beat Northeastern at home, 81-67.
The Tribe led the whole way while both offenses sputtered for a good portion, but the Tribe's second-half shooting made the difference. W&M went 19 of 29 from the field over the final 20 minutes to pull away.
It couldn't have been more different than the team's performance three days prior in South Carolina, where the Tribe shot just 37.3 percent and its biggest offensive threat, Thornton, had nine points on 3-of-12 shooting.
"I'm especially excited with how hard we played tonight and how much enthusiasm we played with tonight after getting shellacked a couple of nights ago," Tribe coach Tony Shaver said. "It seems like yesterday but we responded really well to a disappointing night."
Thornton was back in form Saturday, scoring 25 points on 9 of 14 shooting and dishing out four assists.
With 9:30 to play, after Northeastern had cut the Tribe's 33-24 halftime lead to just five, it was Thornton — playing on a sprained ankle for the second half — who stemmed the Huskies' run with a step-back three from the top of the key to extend W&M's lead.
"I think I was just more aggressive and I played more freely," Thornton said. "Sometimes I start thinking too much and that kind of takes a toll on my game. … I never lose my confidence, I have confidence at all times, but just playing more freely and trusting the offense helped me a lot today."
For the rest of the game, Thornton played the role of closer, scoring 12 in the final 10 minutes of action and finishing at 5 of 7 from behind the arc.
"I'm worried a little bit, quite honestly, about Marcus being worn out a little bit right now," Shaver said. "He plays a lot of minutes and everybody double teams . … He's a marked man, obviously. So he needs a little bit of a rest right now."
Senior center Fred Heldring and senior guard Ben Whitlach made their first starts of the season in place of Thornton and senior forward Kyle Gaillard on Senior Night. It worked well for the first two minutes, but sloppy play abounded in the first. The Tribe shot just 40.7 percent and Northeastern turned the ball over eight times.
The Tribe won the rebounding battle, and senior center Tim Rusthoven had 12 points, five rebounds and five assists.
With just two games left, W&M is one win away from nailing down the third seed in the CAA tournament. The Tribe trails Towson for second place by two games, and will plays the Tigers in its regular-season finale next Saturday.
"As I told the players, I don't want to have to respond anymore," Shaver said. "I want to play hard every night at a high level."
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