WILLIAMSBURG - Marcus Thornton isn't one to gloat, even with the spotlight shining brightly and directly on him. So it should come as no surprise that the William and Mary senior guard took his special night in stride.
In the Tribe's 65-50 win Wednesday over Towson (12-18, 5-12 CAA), Thornton broke the school's career points record that was set in 1950 and had been the longest-standing Division I school scoring record in the country.
Thornton said he didn't approach Wednesday's game any different than normal, needing only 14 points to topple William and Mary great Chet Giermak's storied mark entering the contest.
With Giermak's son, Bill, looking on Wednesday,Thornton called his 23-point performance a "normal" night out.
Thornton, now with 2,062 career points, set the new mark with 3.3 seconds to play in the first half. He drove from the top of the key to the right side of the goal, soaring to the rim and nearly completing a spectacular one-handed throw-down as he was fouled.
Thornton's smile following the play, with the William and Mary crowd rising to its feet in anticipation of the historic moment, may have said more than his humble postgame words could. His first free throw gave him the 14th point he needed and after the second shot, the Tribe (18-10, 12-5) called for time before the public address announcer recognized the achievement with the William and Mary faithful roaring.
"It was a good moment for me," said Thornton. "Definitely a relief. I know the coaching staff and my teammates are proud. Just definitely a great moment."
"This is not about him and I think our team really understands that," said William and Mary coach Tony Shaver. "But I am happy for him. He's helped take this program to a new level. And he deserves it and he works so hard. I've said it many times before but I've never coached a player that spends as much time in the gym as Marcus Thornton. Ever."
Tribe junior Terry Tarpey had an even better game than Thornton, statistically, finishing with a career-high 24 points, 13 rebounds, five blocks, three assists, and three steals.
With the university closed on Thursday because of snow, William and Mary won't be able to practice although Thornton is likely to get a few jumpers off somewhere. Tarpey had an idea Thornton has already put his record-setting performance in the rearview mirror.
"We're proud of him but I wouldn't say that's his number one goal or the team's number one goal," said Tarpey. "We're proud of him. He's going to be trying to find a gym to shoot up in tomorrow. We've got more work to do and I think he's on the same page."
William and Mary overcame a slow start Wednesday to coast to a 28-15 halftime lead.
Towson made a game of it with a late surge, narrowing the gap to five points with 3 minutes, 25 seconds to play before the featured attraction rose to the occasion.
Thornton nailed two consecutive 3-pointers, the second courtesy of a Tarpey assist, to put the Tribe back up 11 points.
"When we needed him, he was there," said Shaver. "What clutch plays."
Omar Prewitt scored nine points for William and Mary, which outshot Towson from the field 46.9 percent to 29.8.
Starting Tribe guard Daniel Dixon was again sidelined with an injury but Shaver said he expects the sophomore back in the regular season finale at home against Drexel on Saturday.
Thursday would have been the first day Dixon could return to practice with no limitations had Mother Nature cooperated.
"I got an outdoor goal out back of my house," Shaver joked. "We might be outside in the snow."