Though the Wrens opened their run to March with a home loss to CAA front-runner Northeastern, the Tribe gave the Huskies all they wanted for the second time in 2013. W&M led by 7 with 6:14 to play, and Northeastern had to close on a 12-2 run to pull out the victory. Shaver's team followed the tough loss to the league leaders with arguably their best 29 minutes of the season against UNCW, running out to a 25-point second-half lead against the Seahawks. We'll ignore for the time being the 32-10 run that Wilmington ripped off over the next 10 minutes and focus on the positive - W&M pulled out a 92-86 victory, shooting 60.9% from the field in the process.
Eventually, this Tribe team will realize that the standard NCAA basketball game is played over 40 minutes. It's possible they grasped that fairly critical point on Saturday, never trailing against ODU in a 12-point win in Norfolk. Though they let the Monarchs get within 2 points at the U8 timeout, W&M gradually but inexorably pulled away behind Marcus Thornton's career-high 32 points and 7 three-pointers. The win gave the Tribe their first season sweep of ODU since most of the G:TB staff was still matriculating in Williamsburg (including your humble reporter, who was in grad school in 1998 - the last time it happened). Thornton went for 25 in the UNCW win - if he's not named the CAA Player of the Week today, we're sending Jerry to the league offices to argue our case.
More importantly, the win also marked the 114th in Tony Shaver's tenure as W&M head coach, making him the winningest coach in the school's 320-year history. Though Shaver's sub-.400 winning percentage isn't necessarily something to write home about, he's authored several of the program's greatest moments. The 2008 and 2010 runs to the CAA Tournament final, the 2010 wins over Wake Forest and Maryland, 19 wins and a near-miss against UNC in that year's NIT (and yes, we ruefully recognize what it says about the program that an NIT first-round near-miss counts as a highlight) all stand with W&M's best hoops memories.
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It feels good to feel bad about losing to Purdue on the road. That's Tony Shaver's gift to W&M fans. We'll be pissed if the Tribe doesn't make the NCAA Tourney this year.