GAME NOTES: The William & Mary Tribe welcome the Old Dominion Monarchs to Kaplan Hall on Wednesday night in a matchup of former Colonial Athletic Association foes.
ODU has not gotten off to a fast start in the season's first two months, going just 5-8. Things have turned especially sour in recent weeks for the Monarchs with losses in seven of their last eight contests, most recently dropping a 67-58 decision at Richmond on Saturday.
William & Mary has been slightly more consistent on the campaign at 6-5, including 3-2 on its home floor. The Tribe had been red-hot with wins in five of their previous six matchups prior to their Sunday afternoon trip to West Virginia, where they were obliterated by the Mountaineers, 82-45.
ODU has dominated the all-time series with William & Mary, 66-18, although the Tribe won both of last season's matchups.
Despite carrying a slim 25-24 lead into intermission of its most recent game against Richmond, ODU lost control in the second half on its way to a nine- point defeat. It shot less than 40 percent from the field in the setback, including a lackluster 4-of-16 from 3-point range, and were plagued by a large disparity in the turnover battle (17-7). Aaron Bacote was just 4-of-12 from the field but made all but one of his 12 free-throw attempts en route to 20 points. Denzell Taylor was strong in the paint with 14 points (on 7-of-8 shooting) and 11 rebounds.
Unfortunately for the Monarchs, they have gotten used to disappointing efforts on the offensive end of the floor, as they shoot just 42.1 percent from the field for 64.8 ppg, which all but negates a strong defensive attack (.414 FG percentage defense, 65.8 ppg). Bacote is the unrivaled top scoring option, pouring in 17.8 ppg on impressive percentages from 3-point range (.410) and the free-throw line (.835). Dimitri Batten (11.7 ppg), Keenan Palmore (10.3 ppg) and Richard Ross (9.0 ppg, 7.9 rpg) are all regular contributors as well.
The Tribe had unquestionably their worst performance of the season in their embarrassing 37-point loss earlier in the week. Not only did they allow WVU to make good on greater than 49 percent of its field goal tries, but they also made a lousy 25.5 percent from the field themselves and were dominated on the glass, 47-31. Tim Rusthoven put together the only worthwhile performance in the forgettable game, posting 13 points and five rebounds. Marcus Thornton scored nine points but did so on a miserable 3-of-16 from the field.
Typically, William & Mary is a much more efficient offensive squad, shooting 45.8 percent from the field for 72.6 ppg. The only problem is that its opponents are having nearly identical success (.458, 71.7 ppg). Thornton, despite his terrible effort the last time out, is still the team leader in points with 18.4 ppg, having drained 30 of the squad's 88 3-pointers. Omar Prewitt has come off the bench in each game to put up 14.0 ppg and 5.0 rpg, while Rusthoven (13.1 ppg, 5.5 rpg) makes just shy of 58 percent of his field goal attempts.
ODU certainly has some talent on its side, but with it reeling of late, it can't be trusted on the road. The Tribe should be able to get back on the winning track in their return home.
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