Big first half leads Tribe men's basketball to win at Hampton

William & Mary basketball
Posted at 10:55 PM, Dec 16, 2020

HAMPTON, Va. - Monday night at George Washington, William & Mary recovered from a brutal first half to win in overtime. Wednesday night at Hampton University, the Tribe took the opposite approach.

After leading by 25 points at halftime, the Tribe overcame a sloppy finish for a 75-58 win at the HU Convocation Center. Luke Loewefinished with 20 points, his second consecutive game with at least that many, and Mehkel Harvey had his first career double-double with 10 points and 11 rebounds.

Less than 12 minutes in, W&M (2-1) was 14-of-21 from the field and 7-of-7 from the 3-point arc. The Tribe led 52-27 at the break but had nearly twice as many turnovers (15) as baskets (eight) the rest of the way.

Hampton (1-3) got as close as 65-50 with 5:55 remaining, but W&M regained control with a 10-2 run.

"In the first half, we obviously came out clicking on all cylinders," Tribe coach Dane Fischer said. "We were getting the ball to the rim and knocking it down from outside. In the second half, we were just clunky.

"They tried to pressure the ball more, which bothered us. We were running our offense 30 feet from the basket. But we maintained our defensive focus and never really gave up any easy baskets. We told the guys afterward, if we had played the second half first and the first half second, we'd have a different feeling in the locker room."

That's what the Tribe did Monday night at GW. William & Mary was outscored 46-31 in the first half but flipped that to 44-29 in the second. The Tribe then got a late basket by Loewe to win 85-84 in overtime.

At halftime Wednesday night, W&M had shot 57 percent from the field, 8-of-11 from the arc, and led 52-27. From there, the Tribe shot 38 percent, 2-of-6 from deep, and was outscored 31-23.

Here's a quirky stat: After going 10-of-12 from the free throw line in the first half, W&M was 5-of-17 in the second. Like all coaches, Fischer has seen white-hot shooting go ice cold with no clear explanation.

"You have such an emotional high feeling when you're playing that way," Fischer said. "Every team has moments when you feel like you can do whatever you want, and we had that going for a little while. The thing we did in the second half that was the most frustrating was turn it over 15 times."

Because W&M was far enough ahead at halftime, the game never got away.

Loewe, the most experienced player on the roster, had another all-around outstanding game. He was 6-of-11 from the field, 4-of-5 from deep, 4-of-5 from the free throw line, and had two assists. For the season, he's averaging 20 points a game on 51-percent shooting, 7-of-14 from the arc.

"He's done a terrific job of playing efficiently within our offense and finding spots to be more aggressive, which we need him to be," Fischer said. "He had another phenomenal game.

"I was proud of his leadership as we were struggling in the second half. He was talking to the guys, 'Stay the course, keep doing what we're doing.' He's been around a long time."

Quinn Blair had 14 points on 5-of-6 shooting, and freshman Yuri Covington added 12. Thornton Scott had eight assists and five rebounds. And there was Harvey, who had a career-highs of 10 points and 11 rebounds.

In four games as a junior, Harvey has 26 points, 21 rebounds, and 12 blocked shots. In his two previous seasons, he had 28 points, 37 boards, and 15 blocks. The 29 minutes he played Wednesday night were also a career-high.

"He showed some really strong promise last year," Fischer said. "What's been great to see is that he's come out and performed in games. That's the one thing that can sometimes take longer for guys.

"He comes out and plays the game like it's a practice. He goes out and does what he does really well. It's been really fun to see him play that way."

NOTES: Despite the cold second half, W&M finished 10-of-17 from deep, which is the 10th-best in terms of percentage (.588) by W&M since the NCAA added the 3-point arc in 1986-87. … The Tribe has won four consecutive games in this I-64 series. … For its home opener, W&M will go against another Big South opponent Saturday as High Point (1-4) comes to Kaplan Arena.