WILLIAMSBURG-With four players scoring in double figures, led by junior Tim Rusthoven's 17 points and career-high 16 rebounds, the William and Mary men's basketball team controlled the visiting Hofstra Pride, 72-59, on Saturday afternoon at Kaplan Arena. The Green and Gold took the lead for good midway through the opening half and led by double-digits the majority of the second half in improving to 9-12 on the season and 3-7 in Colonial Athletic Association play. With the loss, Hofstra falls to 5-17 overall and 2-7 in league action.
Rusthoven registered the most rebounds, 16, for a Tribe players since David Colley pulled down 26 in a Tribe victory over VMI during the 1995-96 season. Additionally, the Winfield, Ill., native posted his fifth double-double of the season and fourth in his last six games. He turned in an all-around showing as well for the Green and Gold dishing out three assists compared to just one turnover, while blocking three shots on the defensive end.
Junior guard Brandon Britt turned in a strong performance, which consisted of a team-high 17 points on 7-of-9 shooting from the floor to go along with a team-best four assists, while classmate Kyle Gaillard netted 13 points, five rebounds and a career-high two blocked shots. Sophomore Marcus Thornton rounded out the Tribe's double-digit scorers with 16 points, 11 of which came in the second half, as the Upper Marlboro, Md., native notched his 23rd consecutive game in double figures. Thornton was 2-of-4 from 3-point range and shared team-high assist honors with four.
The Tribe finished the game shooting a season-high 56.8 percent (25-of-44) from the floor, which included a blistering 62.5 percent (15-of-24) performance in the opening half. From 3-point range, W&M was 6-of-17 (35.3 percent), while it connected on 16-of-20 (80 percent) of its foul shots. In a contest that saw just four ties and two lead changes, the Tribe held the edge in points in the paint (34-26), fast break points (10-2) and bench points (17-16). The Tribe dished out 18 assists on 25 made field goals, while just turning the ball over 10 times.
In the early going, W&M's defense was the story as it held the Pride scoreless for the first 4:13 of the contest. A Matt Rum 3-pointer from the right corner gave the Green and Gold a 3-0 lead at the 18:36 mark. The Pride though scored five straight points to take a 5-3 advantage just five minutes into the contest.
A Jordan Allen dunk at the 14:15 mark gave Hofstra its final lead at 7-5, before back-to-back Gaillard buckets put W&M back on top. His dunk off a feed from junior Fred Heldring at the 13:23 mark gave the Green and Gold a 9-7 cushion. After the Pride pulled even at nine, W&M surged ahead courtesy of a 12-4 run. Two Gaillard free throws ignited the burst, while Rusthoven capped spurt with a layup at the 8:53 mark. Britt provided the major push during the run, scoring five points, including a conventional fast-break 3-point play.
The Pride responded cutting the Tribe margin to 24-20 with 6:07 left to go as Allen went 3-of-4 from the free throw line over a 43-second span. However, the Green and Gold countered, reeling off a momentum-changing 11-0 run to push its advantage to the largest of the opening half at 35-20 with 2:14 remaining. Britt and Rusthoven provided the scoring punch during the spurt, scoring six and five, respectively. The stretch was highlighted by a Britt fast-break lay-up off senior Matt Rum's steal and look ahead assist to the Chesapeake, Va., native at the 5:02 juncture. The Pride closed with within 11 points at the intermission on a jumper from Stevie Mejia at the halftime horn.
Hofstra drew within nine points, 45-36, just two and a half minutes into the second stanza, before W&M reeled off seven straight points to take its largest lead of the contest. Rusthoven scored four straight points, before Gaillard's trifecta from the left wing extend the margin to its largest of the afternoon, 52-36, with 15:48 left to play.
On the verge of letting the contest get out of hand, the Pride scraped its way back into the affair with a 6-0 spurt that cut the deficit to 52-42 with 12:31 left to go. However, W&M extinguished the run with four consecutive points courtesy of Gaillard and Thornton.
Hofstra got to within nine again at 56-47 with 9:21 remaining on a Daquan Brown lay-up, but it was as close as the Pride would come. For the remainder of the contest, the Green and Gold maintained a double-digit lead throughout as the margin ballooned to 13 points or more on eight occasions. The Tribe kept its distance from the Pride as it answered Hofstra's final 10 points with buckets of its own, eight to be exact, on ensuing possessions following Hofstra baskets.
David Imes led Hofstra with 16 points and seven rebounds, while Mejia chipped in 11 points, four rebounds and four assists. A stout defensive effort from the Tribe forced the Pride to shoot just 35.6 percent (21-of-59) from the field and 33.3 percent (6-of-18) from beyond the arc. The best defensive performance of the night came from Rum, a senior guard, who held Hofstra's leading scoring Taran Buie to nine points on 3-of-18 shooting from the floor. Buie entered the contest averaging nearly 15 points per game and did not score over the final 17:27 of the contest.