NORFOLK-On the strength of a career-high 32 points from sophomore Marcus Thornton, the William and Mary men's basketball team led throughout in sweeping the season series with Old Dominion for the first time since 1998 thanks to a 74-62 victory at the Ted Constant Center on Saturday afternoon. In the process, Tribe head man Tony Shaver became the program's winningest coach with his 114th victory roaming the Green and Gold sidelines. W&M won its second straight in improving to 11-14 overall and 5-9 in CAA play, while the Monarchs fell to 3-23 on the season and 1-13 in league action.
Thornton, who scored 20 second-half points, produced W&M's first 30-plus point performance since Quinn McDowell's 35 in the opening round of the 2011 CAA Tournament. The Upper Marlboro, Md., native knocked down seven 3-pointers, the fourth-best single-game total in W&M history, while connecting on 11-of-12 from the charity stripe. Junior guard Brandon Britt scored 15 of his 18 points in the first half, propelling the Tribe to the early lead. He also dished out four assists compared to just one turnover.
Coupled with its home win over the Monarchs in December, the Tribe victory on Saturday marks just the third time in the all-time series that the Green and Gold swept the regular season meetings with ODU. W&M also accomplished the feat in 1997 and 1998. With the win, the Tribe increased it lead in the Optima Health Challenge, a running score of all the direct competitions between the two schools, to 45-30.
The Tribe broke open a 9-all contest with a 13-2 run midway through the opening half. Britt highlighted the spurt with nine points, including a pair of 3-pointers. A Matt Rum steal on the defense end led to a pitch-ahead pass by Britt to junior Kyle Gaillard for a fast-break lay-up, giving W&M a 22-11 lead with 7:56 remaining in the first frame.
The Green and Gold lead reached as many as 12, 25-13, on a Julian Boatner 3-pointer from the top of the key at the 7:25 mark, but the Monarchs came back with a run of its own. As part of a 13-3 ODU spurt, Dimitri Batten and Aaron Bacote drilled back-to-back 3-pointers. The second of the sequence twiddled the Tribe margin to 29-28 with 3:01 left in the opening half.
Thornton answered with five straight points for the Tribe. He hit a 3-pointer on the ensuing W&M possession, before knocking down a pair from the free throw line to push the Tribe lead to 34-28. W&M maintained its advantage over the closing minutes of the opening half, taking a 39-34 cushion to the locker room. The Tribe shot 56.5 percent (13-of-23) from the field, including a 6-of-9 effort from 3-point range, in the opening 20 minutes.
After a Tim Rusthoven bucket to start the second half, ODU scored seven straight points to pull even at 41. Bacote scored the final five points of the spurt as his 3-pointer from the top of the key just under two and a half minutes into the second frame tied the game. The Tribe once again had the answer as it was Thornton with a triple, before Gaillard drove the left side of the lane and threw down a two-handed jam to give W&M a 46-41 lead less than a minute later.
ODU drew within a single possession on five occasions over the remainder of the second half, but each time, the Tribe found an answer with either a basket or a stop of the defensive end. Back-to-back baskets from DeShawn Painter cut the Tribe lead to just 58-56 with 7:51 remaining. W&M responded by holdind the Monarchs scoreless for nearly five minutes and increased its advantage to seven. Thornton drilled his seventh 3-pointer of the contest at the 5:06 mark, before Boatner found Gaillard for a lay-up to stretch the advantage to 63-56.
Thornton (8-of-8) and Britt (3-of-4) combined to go 11-of-12 from the charity stripe over the final 2:30 of the contest to put the game away. A pair of Thornton free throws at the 55 second mark pushed the lead to double-digits, before settling on the final margin of 12.
W&M finished the contest shooting 45.1 percent (23-of-51) from the floor, including 10-of-23 (43.5 percent) from 3-point range. The Tribe connected on 81.8 percent (18-of-22) from the free throw line and dished out 18 assists on 23 made field goals. The Green and Gold held a 33-29 advantage on the glass against the Monarchs, which entered the game outrebounding its foes by 3.2 per contest. Despite being saddled with foul trouble, especially in the opening half, Rusthoven finished with eight points, six rebounds and five assists for the Tribe. Gaillard chipped in eight points and five rebounds, while Rum topped W&M with seven rebounds and six assists compared to just one turnover.
Old Dominion shot 50 percent (28-of-56) from the floor for the game, including a 52 percent (13-of-25) clip in the second half. The Monarchs were only 6-of-22 (27.3 percent) from 3-point range. Bacote led ODU with 20 points on 8-of-14 from the floor and 4-of-8 from 3-point range, while Painter tallied a double-double with 16 points and 10 rebounds.