WILLIAMSBURG, Va. - The William and Mary men’s basketball team won its home opener, 84-72, over the Liberty Flames on Tuesday night at Kaplan Arena. The Tribe used a 14-2 run midway through the second half to break the game open. W&M placed four players in double figures and shot 60.4 percent from the field. The Green and Gold improved to 1-1 on the season, while Liberty fell to 1-1.
Junior guard Marcus Thornton led all scorers with a game-high 23 points, while freshman Omar Prewitt continued the impressive start to his young career. The Mount Sterling, Ky., native tallied 18 points on 6-of-10 from the floor and 5-of-6 from the free throw line to go with six rebounds and four assists. Senior forward Tim Rusthoven rebounded from a tough opening game in scoring 16 points on 8-of-9 shooting, while adding five rebounds and four assists against the Flames. Sophomore wing Terry Tarpey turned in his second straight standout performance with 13 points on 5-of-5 from the floor and a game-high seven rebounds.
With the game tied at 55 and under nine minutes remaining, the Green and Gold ripped off a 14-2 run to gain control. Tarpey highlighted the spurt with seven points, while Thornton added five. After John Caleb Sanders tied the game at the 8:42 mark, Rusthoven found Tarpey for an easy lay-up to put W&M back on top for good. An Omar Prewitt steal led to a Thornton score, before Tarpey converted back-to-back lay-ups, including the first off a steal and pass ahead from senior Julian Boatner as part of a conventional 3-point play.
A Thornton triple from the left wing with four minutes left gave W&M its largest lead of the night at 69-57. Liberty closed to within six points twice in the final minute and a half, but the Tribe connected on six of its final eight free throws and scored the game’s final six points to come away with the 84-72 victory.
The Tribe shot a sizzling 68 percent (17-of-25) from the floor in the second half on the way to hitting at a 60.4 percent clip (32-of-53) for the game. The Tribe held a 30-28 advantage on the glass and dished out 18 assists, while finishing with seven steals and six blocked shots. Liberty shot 46.7 percent (28-of-60) from the floor and 40 percent (8-of-20) from 3-point range.
The Flames took the early lead, extending its cushion to as much as eight points, 20-12, at the 11-minute mark of the first half following a Sanders’ 3-pointer. Liberty led 30-24 with 6:32 left in the opening frame, before the W&M picked things up on both ends of the floor. The Tribe held the Flames without a field goal and turned six-point deficit into a two-point halftime lead over the final six and a half minutes of the period. The Green and Gold scored the half’s final eight points on back-to-back 3-pointers from Boatner and Thornton, before a Thornton lay-up with 30 seconds left sent the Tribe to the intermission on top, 34-32.
Liberty regained the lead by scoring the first seven points of the second half. The Flames' margin was five, 39-34, following a Davon Marshall 3-pointer less than two and a half minutes into the frame. W&M pulled back even at 41 on a Thornton jumper less than five minutes into the half and the team's traded the lead back and forth before the final tie of the night at 55.
Antwan Burrus led the Flames with 18 points and six rebounds, while Marshall and Sanders each chipped in 12. Sanders also had a game-high eight assists.