In the conclusion of Saturday’s quarterfinals, James Madison and William & Mary battled back and forth.
If you’ve watched them play at all over the years, you’d expect nothing less.
It ultimately came down to one big JMU run. It came when the Tribe led 56-49, and had seemingly seized all momentum.
JMU answered with a big 17-2 run. The Dukes worked inside and out, and negated their own poor free-throw shooting (9-of-18) by capitalizing on second-chance opportunities.
The Dukes outrebounded the Tribe 34-23, which helped create a 17-5 advantage in second-chance opportunities.
The second-chance opportunities were now lost on William & Mary head coach Tony Shaver:
“The key to the game was in the last eight minutes, we didn’t rebound the ball. Don’t look any further than, that to be honest with you.”
With a 66-58 lead, the Dukes appeared ready to pull away. Then, as he has time after time, Marcus Thornton hit a big 3-pointer to pull the Tribe within five.
After an empty possession from JMU, Kyle Gaillard’s layup made a bad pass look stupendous and put the Tribe within three.
The score was 66-63.
On JMU’s next trip down the court, Devon Moore drove the lane and missed, but freshman Andre Nation tipped in Moore’s miss to push the lead back to five.
Nation proceeded to run his mouth at W&M’s Matt Rum, and picked up a technical foul for his efforts. The referees had stopped played just minutes before to reprimand Nation and Rum. The technical foul was Nation’s fifth.
Thornton hit the two free throws to trim the Dukes’ lead to three.
Goins and Thornton traded buckets, and after a botched inbounds play from JMU, the Tribe had a chance to tie the game.
Thornton had a good look at the hoop, but his shot was a little long. JMU freshman Ron Curry secured the rebound and hit both free throws, which allowed JMU to secure the 72-67 win.
AJ Davis and Devon Moore paced the Dukes with 20 points each. In the end, it was the revival of Rayshawn Goins (whose recent struggles are well-noted) that made the difference. Goins finished with 13 points.
For Matt Brady’s squad, it was an excellent reminder of what JMU’s seniors mean to the team.
“I don’t think you can replace seniors. Our seniors are really the reason why we advanced tonight.”
JMU also held a 19-11 advantage in points off turnovers.
The Dukes survived yet another spectacular game from William & Mary’s stud sophomore Thornton, who finished with a game-high 25 points.
If Thornton makes a similar jump to the one he made between his freshman and sophomore seasons, it’s frightening to think how good he could be.
Brandon Britt finished with 17 points, but cooled off a bit in the second half, after scoring 12 in the first.
#Beasthoven finished with 15 points for the Tribe, who shot 50% on the night.
Matt Brady dismissed the idea that this win might lead to a contract extension.
“The fact of the matter is I’ll be fine. This about our team trying to advance and do something special.”
It’s about moving to the CAA Tournament semifinals for the first time in his tenure.
“It’s a program win more than anything else.”
Coach Tony Shaver was obviously disappointed the seniors, most notably Matt Rum, had their seasons cut short.
“It’s exciting to see them play as hard as they did. It’s equally disappointing and heartbreak for it not to work our way.”