Amazing Second Half Comeback Leads Tribe to CAA Semifinals
It was certainly a lot better than the last time the Tribe played Charleston.
On Saturday night, the #3 Tribe (19-11, 10-6) overcame a 12 point halftime deficit to defeat the #6 Charleston Cougars 59-70 in the CAA Men’s Basketball Championship Quarterfinals, avenge an earlier 54-87 loss to the Cougars, and advance to their third CAA Semifinal in the past seven years. The win also assured the Tribe a postseason berth, their first in four years.
“Our will to win was really on display during the second half,” said head coach Tony Shaver. The Green and Gold obliterated the Cougars in the second half, outscoring them by a whopping 42-19. “We started the second half the same way we played the first half… We weren’t going to win if we continued that process.”
At halftime, the Tribe did not look like they would be the winning team by any means. It looked as if the Tribe’s season might be over. William and Mary was held to a disgusting 28 points, one of the Tribe’s worst first halves of the season. Charleston scored 40 points in the first half.
Both teams would score two points to start the second half, then Tony Shaver called a time out. That was when the Tribe was recharged. The Tribe then went on an 11-4 run to cut the margin to 46-41.
When Brandon Britt fouled Anthony Stitt while he was shooting a three pointer, things did not look good. It looked as if the Tribe had just relinquished the momentum. That was not the case. Stitt would miss two of three free throws to make it a six point lead.
In the next three minutes, Marcus Thornton scored five points and Kyle Gaillard and Brandon Britt kicked in with two points each to lead the Tribe on a 9-4 run that cut the Cougar lead to 51-50. Anthony Thomas would then hit a layup for the Cougars, but that would be it for the Charleston lead. On the Tribe’s next possession, Daniel Dixon hit an NBA three to tie the game. Following a missed Charleston layup, Dixon would go to the line after a foul by Thomas. Dixon made one of two to give the Tribe their first lead of the half. Brandon Britt would score three more and Tim Rusthoven would score one to finish off a Tribe 8-0 run.
Charleston wasn’t done yet. Adjehi Baru scored a layup and Willis Hall hit two free throws to cut the Tribe lead to 58-57. Omar Prewitt put an end to the Cougar run with a deep NBA three that put the Tribe up by four. Anthony Thomas hit one more layup, but that was it for the Cougars, and the Tribe went on a 9-0 run highlighted by a Gaillard dunk with under a minute left to seal the Tribe win 59-70.
Marcus Thornton and Brandon Britt led the Tribe with 16 points apiece, and Terry Tarpey kicked in with nine.
The Tribe advances to play in Sunday’s CAA Men’s Basketball Championship Semifinals against #2 Towson at 5:00. It should also be noted that six years ago Sunday, the Tribe won a CAA Semifinal match-up as the #5 seed against #1 VCU 56-54 on a Laimis Kisielius game winner to advance to the Tribe’s first ever CAA Championship game. The Tribe has won their last two CAA Semifinals, the last one coming in 2010 off of a David Schneider three to propel the #3 Tribe past #2 Northeastern, 47-45.
The Tribe will take on the Towson Tigers concluding the first semifinal featuring #5 Northeastern and #1 Delaware. The winner of that game will face the winner of tonight’s Tribe vs. Tigers game.
The game will be shown on NBC Sports Network (channel 34).