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Tribe's CAA tourney run ends in championship game

  • Tribe pride
    Tribe pride  William & Mary fans cheer on the Tribe men's basketball team as it faced off against Old Dominion University on Monday night.  Photo by Jim Agnew
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The William and Mary men's basketball team's bid for a CAA Championship fell just short on Monday night, falling in a hard-fought contest to regular season champion Old Dominion, 60-53, at the Richmond Coliseum. With the loss, the Tribe falls to 22-10 on the year, the third-most wins in school history, while ODU improved to 26-8 overall.

Danny Sumner (Photo by Jim Agnew)The Tribe was led by senior Danny Sumner, who scored 16 of his game-high 19 points in the second half. Sumner finished the game 7-of-14 from the field, including 5-of-11 from beyond the arc, while grabbing five rebounds. Sophomore Quinn McDowell finished with nine points for the College, while junior Marcus Kitts added seven points and pulled down five boards.

In the opening minutes of the game, the Monarchs built an early 5-0 lead. The Tribe responded, however, with an 8-2 run of its own to take its first lead of the game, 8-7, following a traditional 3-point play on a driving lay-up from senior Sean McCurdy.

Old Dominion answered the Green and Gold's run with one of their own, racing out to a 27-14 lead after a 19-6 run during the next 8:41. But in a game of runs, the Tribe fought back, ending the first half by scoring 10 of the final 14 points to cut the margin to 31-24 at halftime.

David Schneider (Photo by Jim Agnew)Seven Tribe players scored at least three points in the opening half, led by senior David Schneider who had six points and three assists. Off the bench, senior forward Steven Hess continued his strong play and totaled three points and three rebounds in just eight minutes of action.

Out of the locker rooms, Old Dominion came out strong and extended its lead to 41-26 with a 10-2 run. Once again, however, the Green and Gold responded, going on a 9-2 run, capped by seven straight points from Sumner. By the 11:13 mark the Tribe had cut the ODU advantage to 43-35.

With Old Dominion up 52-42, the Tribe made yet another charge, again led by Sumner. Down 10, Sumner nailed a three to cut the lead to seven, and following two free throws from \McDowell, W&M had sliced the Old Dominion lead in half, 52-47, with 5:12 remaining.

Marcus Kitts (Photo by Jim Agnew)Old Dominion answered and pushed the margin back to eight before another 3-pointer by Sumner cut the lead to five again with just under a minute to play. The College was unable to get any closer the rest of the way, however, as ODU closed out the game at the free throw line to seal the 60-53 win.

Both teams finished the game shooting 39.6 percent (19-of-48) from the floor, while ODU held a 15-6 advantage in free throws made. The College canned nine 3-pointers on the evening, established a new CAA record for 3-pointers made with 279 on the season.

Junior Darius James led ODU with 12 points, including a 3-of-5 effort from 3-point range. Sophomore Kent Bazemore added 10 points and five assits. while junior Ben Finney and senior Gerald Lee finished with nine points each.

After the game, Sumner and Schneider were named to the CAA All-Tournament team. It marked the second all-tournament team selection for both seniors, as both garnered the distinction in 2008. Old Dominion's Gerald Lee was named the MVP of the CAA Tournament and was joined on all-tournament squad by teammate Kent Bazemore. Northeastern's Matt Janning and VCU's Joey Rodriguez were also selected to the all-tournament team.

The CAA Championship game puts an exclamation point on one of the best regular seasons in William and Mary history. Among the highlights for the Tribe this year include receiving votes in the national polls for the first time since 1977-78, a school-record 10 road victories, and six RPI Top-75 wins, including three RPI top-40 wins. The College also became the first CAA team to defeat two ACC teams on the road with its victories over Wake Forest and ACC regular season champion Maryland earlier in the season.

With the regular season now over, the William and Mary Tribe men's basketball team awaits to hear its postseason fate on Selection Sunday, March 14. The NCAA Tournament Selection Show will air at 6 p.m. on CBS, while the NIT Selection Show will air on ESPN at 9 p.m.