By Dave Fairbank
10:53 PM EST, November 21, 2012
WILLIAMSBURG – Maybe the best thing about William and Mary’s performance Wednesday is that the Tribe doesn’t have long to dwell upon it.
A comprehensively lackluster 72-59 loss to Miami of Ohio on Wednesday at Kaplan Arena must be shelved quickly, with a Friday evening date at Wake Forest.
“Sometimes I wish I was a football coach,” Tribe coach Tony Shaver said. “When you win, you’ve got six days to enjoy it. Tonight, I’m glad I’m a basketball coach, because we play again in 48 hours.”
The Tribe (3-1) suffered its first loss on a night in which it was disjointed offensively and inattentive too often on defense.
Guards Brandon Britt and Marcus Thornton led the way with 17 and 15 points, respectively. But they also combined to make just 2 of 9 free throws and totaled eight turnovers. The Tribe finished with twice as many turnovers (18) as assists (9).
“Eighteen turnovers against a team like that, we need to definitely cut that down,” forward Kyle Gaillard said. “One of our things is we value the ball in practice. We can’t turn the ball over very much. That’s something we have to change, to be able to handle pressure and execute our offense.”
Guard Allen Roberts and forward Bill Edwards combined for 37 points to lead Miami of Ohio, which built a double-figure lead early in the second half, then held the Tribe at arm’s length the rest of the game.
The RedHawks (2-2) came in as something of an unknown. Though they return four starters and have no seniors, they have a new coach in John Cooper, who replaced longtime coach Charlie Coles. They suffered lopsided losses at national powers N.C. State and Louisville and registered a one-sided win against Grambling.
On Wednesday, they exhibited balance on offense. They pressed judiciously and effectively on defense. They beat the Tribe to loose balls more often than not. They answered every William and Mary push in the second half.
“In the first half, we weren’t getting back on defense,” Britt said. “I think that was the key for the whole game – transition defense. We didn’t get back. They scored easy buckets, and we just weren’t communicating.”
Forward Tim Rusthoven managed just five points and didn’t score in the second half, after averaging 18.7 points in the Tribe’s first three wins.
“It’s not just Tim,” Shaver said. “We didn’t really run our offense.”
Miami of Ohio jumped the Tribe out of the gate in the second half, turning a two-point lead into a 40-30 spread in the first 3 1/2 minutes.
W&M drew within four and five points on several occasions, the last time on a Thornton jump shot at the 10:34 mark that made it 48-43. The RedHawks quickly scored the next six points, the final two baskets on layups after steals.
The Tribe was never closer than seven points, as Miami pushed the lead to as much as 17 points. Gaillard was one of the few bright spots, scoring all 12 of his points in the second half as he works his way back into game shape after taking off all of last season with left knee issues.
Gaillard is happy to be back playing games again, and relishes the quick turnaround after Wednesday.
“I think it’s a great opportunity,” he said. “It gives us a chance to put this game behind us real quick. (Thursday) morning, we’re going to come here and watch film on Wake, and we’ll put this game in the rear-view mirror. That gives us a nice fresh start for us, to go out and play Wake.”
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