Courtesy of Dave Johnson, William & Mary Athletics
William & Mary had its best offensive numbers of the season, at least in terms of shooting percentage and production. But James Madison wouldn’t go away, and the Tribe is no longer undefeated in conference play.
Despite shooting 54% and scoring its highest point total in nearly four years, W&M was unable to hold on in 95-91 overtime loss Saturday afternoon at Kaplan Arena. The Tribe (3-13, 2-1 CAA) led by 23 points in the first half and by 16 with 10½ minutes remaining, but turnovers and offensive rebounds were the culprit.
JMU forced overtime on Justin Amadi’s follow with 1.3 seconds remaining. The Dukes never trailed from there.
“That was a pretty entertaining basketball game,” W&M coach Dane Fischer said. “I was certainly pleased with the way we competed through the whole thing.
“The start we got off to was obviously terrific. You’ve got to give JMU credit for coming back the way they did and sticking together.”
Yuri Covington was outstanding for W&M with a career-high 29 points on 9-of-12 shooting, 5-of-7 from the field. Brandon Carroll added 16, all coming after halftime. Connor Kochera finished with 14 points before fouling out two minutes into overtime.
And Langdon Hatton, a 6-foot-10 freshman, had his first career double-double with 13 points and 14 rebounds in 25 minutes off the bench.
“We’ve seen the ability Yuri has as a defender,” Fischer said. “Today, he played terrific on the offensive end. … Brandon did a great job in the second half when we were reeling a bit. That was great to see after he sat a lot of the first half with foul trouble.
“That’s the best that Langdon’s played since he’s been here. I thought he had a different motor to him today. … That kid has a chance to be a really, really good player. If he plays with that effort, he’s going to get there a lot quicker.”
What did in the Tribe Saturday was rebounding on the defensive end and turnovers on the offensive.
JMU outscored W&M 16-4 on second-chance points after halftime. Amadi’s follow was obviously huge, but so was a 3-pointer by Vado Morse in overtime that put JMU ahead to stay 89-86. That came after an offensive board by Julien Wooden.
W&M turned it over 25 times, 16 coming after halftime —10 of those coming in a 13-possession stretch. Not by coincidence, the Dukes outscored the Tribe 21-8 in fast-break points.
“I thought we really did a good job in the half court defensively of executing the way we wanted with the exception of giving up offensive rebounds,” Fischer said. “On the offensive end, I loved the confidence our guys played with, and the obvious issue we had was taking care of the ball.
“I’m not sure I’ve seen a team turn it over 25 times and score 91 points in a game before. That’s something we clearly have to get shored up.”
The Tribe scored on 13 of its first 17 possessions and took its biggest lead of the season against a D1 opponent at 33-10 with 8:55 left in the half. It was 39-16 five minutes later, but the Dukes outscored W&M 19-6 the rest of the way for a 10-point deficit at the break.
JMU took its first lead on two free throws by Terrence Edwards with 2:23 remaining, but Kochera tied at 1:43. Then, after a miss on the Dukes’ end, Hatton made a pair of free throws to put the Tribe ahead 80-78 with 29.6 seconds left.
Hatton had a chance to put it away after rebounding a miss on JMU’s end but missed a pair of free throws. That set up Amadi’s tying follow with 1.3 seconds left.
It was a tough loss, especially after not having played since New Year’s Eve. Fischer knows there are issues that need fixing, but he likes the fire he is seeing.
“I love the effort we’re playing with,” he said. “That’s really important. I think there’s a different confidence level from this team right now. The guys on the floor just have a different look about them, and we need to continue to do that.
“There’s not a game left on the schedule that if we play 75 or 80% we’re going to win. We’ve got to play as well as we can every night in this league. Our guys are starting to prepare the right way and played with good confidence today.”
UP NEXT: The Tribe hosts Towson, who is 3-1 in the CAA after Saturday’s win at Elon, on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Tip-off is set for 7 p.m.