On the court and in the water, William & Mary scored a couple of significant “firsts” last weekend.
The men’s basketball team won its first-ever Colonial Athletic Association regular-season title, and will enter this week’s conference tournament as the No. 1 seeded team. With that designation comes an automatic bid to the National Invitation Tournament. Should the team not make the NCAA tournament, first-round NIT games will be played March 17 and 18.
Meanwhile, the men's swimming team completed a journey 87 years in the making on Saturday night, winning the CAA swimming and diving championships—that team’s first-ever conference title. The Tribe piled up 784.5 points, the second-most in conference history, to win over Towson (599) and defending champion UNC-Wilmington (565.5).
The Tribe basketball team (18-11, 12-6 CAA) will play the winner of Friday’s game between No. 8 Elon and No. 9 Towson at noon on Saturday, March 7. The quarterfinals of the CAA Championship will be televised regionally on Comcast SportsNet.
William & Mary swept Towson during the season, including a 65-50 victory on February 25 in which guard Marcus Thornton became the university’s all-time leading scorer, eclipsing the 65-year record held by Chet Giermak.
The Tribe split with Elon, losing 85-79 on the road and winning 77-58 at Kaplan Arena.
Tribe fans can also listen to all broadcasts on the Tribe Radio Network, with Jay Colley and Charlie Woollum on the call. The Tide 92.3 FM and 107.9 Bach FM are the flagship stations of the Tribe Radio Network, and the broadcast will be streamed online at TribeAthetics.com.
In a vote of the league’s swimming coaches, junior Jeremiah O'Donnell (Chapel Hill, North Carolina) was named the Most Outstanding Swimmer of the championships, after sweeping his three individual events as well as swimming on the gold-medal 800 free relay. He broke conference records on that relay as well as in the 200 IM and the 400 IM, and came back on Saturday to complete the trifecta with a school record in the 200 breast.
This is the third year in a row that a Tribe swimmer has claimed at least a share of the MVP award, and coach Matt Crispino ’02 was a repeat winner of the coach-of-the-year award.
In the 200 backstroke, junior Will Manion (Haddonfield, New Jersey) successfully defended his title in a conference-record time of 1:44.13. That was Manion's fourth title of the week, and his program-record tying 10th career gold medal.
The Tribe had six men qualified for the 200 breast, racking up big points. O'Donnell completed his sweep with a school-record 1:57.39, an NCAA qualifying time that broke the record set last season. Josh Zimmt (Barrington, Rhode Island), who's record O'Donnell broke, made a charge over the last 50 and came up with a second-place finish and NCAA qualifying time of 1:58.48. That was the fifth-fastest race ever for W&M.
The Tribe put the exclamation point on the victory in the 400 free relay, swimming a school-record time and winning for the first time since 1999.
CAA basketball tournament schedule
In Baltimore, Md.
Friday, March 6
No. 9 Towson vs. No. 8 Elon, 6 p.m.
No. 10 College of Charleston vs. No. 7 Drexel, 8:30 p.m.
Saturday, March 7
Towson-Elon winner vs. No. 1 William and Mary, noon
No. 5 Hofstra vs. No. 4 James Madison, 2:30 p.m.
CofC-Drexel winner vs. No. 2 UNC Wilmington, 6 p.m.
No. 6 Delaware vs. No. 3 Northeastern, 8:30 p.m.
Sunday, March 8
Semifinals at 2:30 and 5 p.m.
Monday, March 9
Championship game, 7 p.m.