WILLIAMSBURG – Good basketball teams tend to find ways to win different types of games, from the track meets to the bruising defensive battles like the one William and Mary found itself in on Tuesday against Old Dominion.
The Tribe won, 55-48, in a way it hadn’t since 1991: without a single made 3-pointer. William and Mary (5-2) missed all 15 of its attempts from beyond the arc after connecting for at least 10 triples in each of the previous three contests.
William and Mary survived thanks to brilliant crunchtime performances from leaders Omar Prewitt and Terry Tarpey, who combined to score the team’s final 15 points as the Tribe ended the game on a 9-0 run.
“Who would have thought William and Mary would win going 0-for-15 from 3 and outscoring them 32-14 in the paint,” Tribe coach Tony Shaver said. “I think again we proved we can win different-type ballgames.”
The junior Prewitt finished with a game-high 18 points, shooting 6 of 8 at the foul line to go along with seven rebounds and four assists against the Monarchs (3-4), who lost their fourth-straight game (Purdue, St. Joseph's, VCU).
The senior Tarpey, who entered the game leading William and Mary in scoring with 17.3 per game, didn’t register a point until he tied the score at 46 with 2 minutes, 33 seconds to play in the game on a layup following his rebound of a missed Daniel Dixon 3.
Tarpey then put the Tribe ahead 50-48 when Prewitt, stuck at a dead end after driving to the low block, found Tarpey cutting to the basket for another lay-in.
“This team is much more than just me offensively,” Tarpey said. “Coaches did a great job just keeping me in the game, doing what I do well, which is rebounding, steals, blocks. And then at the end of the game, it kind of just came to me and I made my chances.”
Tarpey finished with seven rebounds, two blocks and two steals. He made one more of those offensive chances in transition on another layup, while drawing a foul, to put William and Mary up 53-48 after making the ensuing free throw with 13 seconds left.
It was Prewitt that keyed that break following his rebound of a missed jumper from Trey Freeman, one of two ODU guards with 14 points along with Aaron Bacote.
Shaver told the wing players at halftime they’d be coming out of the game if they didn’t start getting out and running the floor, the pace the Tribe prefers.
Sean Sheldon led the Tribe with nine rebounds, adding eight points. Dixon also finished with eight points.
Old Dominion coach Jeff Jones thought the difference in the game was William and Mary adjusting to the 3 being taken away and driving to the bucket for points in the second half.
“There’s going to be nights like that and you have to adjust to it,” Prewitt said. “Driving into the lane was a big part for us and offensive rebounds were huge by Terry there at the end. When the game is going like that, you just have to adjust.”
Shaver expected the Tribe would have to grind out a win against Old Dominion’s man-to-man defense. The Monarchs ranked 18th nationally entering Tuesday, holding opponents to 59.8 points a game.
William and Mary may have to find yet another type of way to win Saturday on the road against 10th-ranked University of Virginia and coach Tony Bennett’s compact, often stifling man defense.
The Cavaliers improved to 6-1 Wednesday with a 64-58 win at Ohio State.
“They’re one of the better teams in the country,” Shaver said, “one of the better programs in the country. I really respect the way they play the game and their staff.”
Shaver said there was a time when William and Mary played those types of games for a paycheck. The Tribe’s season-opening win at N.C. State serves as a reminder those days are over. William and Mary also won at Wake Forest and Maryland in 2010 before giving North Carolina a scare in the NIT.
“We play these games to win them right now,” Shaver said. “We don’t always do it, but we believe we can be successful in that atmosphere.”