W&M women enter CAA play on 10-game win streak

— Abby Rendle's triple-double and Marlena Tremba's 27 points were no doubt crucial Wednesday as the William and Mary women's basketball team earned its 10th straight win. The most notable thing about the 82-72 win over East Carolina as the Tribe wrapped its best nonconference start in school history, might have been coach Ed Swanson's reaction to it.

In the past, Swanson might have been dancing in the locker room after a big win — and not well, he added. Former Colonial Athletic Association rival ECU (9-4) had won three straight and is now tied for the fourth-best record in an American Athletic Conference topped by women's basketball superpower Connecticut.

In Swanson's fourth season, there's only room for brief celebration now. The Tribe (10-1) expects to win these types of games.

"I think we step on the floor each time and our attitude is changing," Swanson said. "Even if we would have lost tonight, I think our attitude has changed that each time we step on the floor now we feel we're supposed to win."

Rendle registered 14 points, 11 rebounds and 10 blocks for the second triple-double of her career and second in school history. The 6-foot-4 junior from Reston had eight of those blocks by halftime and had her hands full guarding ECU's Kristen Gaffney, a 6-1 graduate student that played three seasons at Vanderbilt and missed one with an injury. Gaffney ranks eighth in AAC scoring (16.3) and tallied 26 points, but was only 4-of-9 from the field in the second half.

Bre McDonald was the only Pirate in double figures with 14 points while senior Alexandra Masaquel had 13 points and nine boards for the Tribe and junior point guard Jenna Green added 10 points and six assists.

All but one of Rendle's 11 rebounds came on the defensive end.

"She's a rim protector," Swanson said. "She's got very good timing and she changes a lot of shots as well. It's a great defensive piece to have in there in terms of somebody that can alter and block shots."

"I guess at the beginning of the season, my shots weren't falling," Rendle said, "so I've been focusing on defense and trying to help my team that way. I've been working really hard, just to get my layups to go in and stuff like that, so it's nice to see all my progress kind of pay off. But I'm just trying to be there for my team on the defensive and offensive end."

The story was similar for Tremba, who had only three points at halftime on 0-of-4 shooting from the field before finishing 4-for-8 from 3-point range and 9-for-12 at the free throw line. The senior from Vienna scored 16 of the Tribe's final 22 in the fourth quarter including back-to-back finishes inside to put William and Mary up 70-65 with 3:17 left. One came on a backdoor layup on a nice feed from Green, who had only one turnover, and knocked down a step-back 3-pointer from the top of the key to make it 73-66 with 1:40 to go.

Swanson pointed out although Tremba didn't have a field goal in the first half, she had five defensive rebounds and finished with six.

"A couple of years ago I would have gotten really frustrated with myself and just focused on my shots opposed to just getting rebounds or creating shots for other people," Tremba said. "Then I was able to focus, people set really good screens for me and I was able to just fight through the self-doubt and make my shots."

Sophomore Bianca Boggs added nine points for William and Mary, which turned it over only twice in the second half and will enter CAA competition Jan. 2 at Delaware with the best record in the league.

"We celebrate this one," Swanson said, "10-1 nonconference is terrific, but we wake up tomorrow and everybody's 0-0 in the CAA."

Holtzman can be reached by phone at 757-298-5830.

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