Tribe men's hoops hangs on in final seconds to beat Elon, 65-61

William & Mary
Posted at 8:51 PM, Jan 29, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-29 20:51:35-05

WILLIAMSBURG, Va. ( - Playing its sixth game in 13 days, William & Mary came out with vigor. Especially on the defensive end, where the Tribe held Elon to eight points in the game's first 12 minutes.

It was a defensive play with 7.6 seconds remaining that preserved W&M's 65-61 win Saturday in Kaplan Arena. Connor Kochera's [] deflected inbounds pass kept the Phoenix from attempting a game-tying 3-pointer, and Brandon Carroll's [] free throw clinched the win.

"That was a great win for us today," Fischer said. "Guys came out with a great defensive focus for us and did a really good job.

"In the second half, you have to give Elon a lot of credit because they kept battling. But I was really proud of how we finished by making our free throws and coming up with a big stop when we needed it."

Free throws played a big part in W&M's losses at Charleston and Elon earlier in the week, but the Tribe shot 20-of-26 Saturday. W&M made only 3-of-6 in the final 90 seconds, but that ended up being just enough.

Ben Wight [] led the Tribe with 16 points, eight of that coming from the free throw line in 10 attempts. Carroll finished with 10 and hit the clinching free throw with 4.7 seconds left. Kochera and Tyler Rice [] had nine each.

It was the second game between these teams in three days. Elon won 61-54 Thursday night in North Carolina.

William & Mary (5-17, 4-5 CAA) never trailed and led by double digits for most of the game, but Elon kept fighting. A dunk by Michael Graham cut the Tribe's advantage to 63-61 with 13.3 seconds remaining.

Kochera was fouled with 8.3 seconds left but went 1-of-2 from the free throw line, which left it a one-possession game. The Phoenix had a chance to tie, and Hunter McIntosh and Zac Ervin were a combined 7-of-19 from deep.

But Kochera tipped away the inbounds pass, and Carroll gained possession. He was fouled with 4.7 seconds left and, needing only to go 1-of-2 to put it out of reach, did just that.

Fischer credited Kochera, who was guarding the inbound passer, with tracing the ball. He had an interesting way of describing it.

"The way I've explained it to them is that my daughter can trace well and my son can't," he said. "He drew a picture one day, and he told me it was a pink house. It looks nothing like a pink house.

"So we tell the guys 'trace the ball, no pink houses.' Connor did a good job on that play. No pink houses."

Playing at home for the first time since Jan. 17, the Tribe took a 22-6 lead on Miguel Ayesa's [] 3-pointer with 9 minutes remaining in the first half. Ayesa, who has seen more playing time of late, finished with eight points in 10 minutes.

"Miguel has been working in practice really, really well lately," Fischer said. "In the last month or so, he's been really good defensively. He went in today and gave us a huge lift.

"We need that. We need to have that kind of depth as we head through the second part of conference play."

After a busy stretch, the Tribe will get back to its normal week. W&M will stay home against Charleston Thursday night and UNC Wilmington Saturday afternoon.

"Our plan is to take (Sunday) off and … have a normal Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday week," Fischer said. "And then get ready to play Thursday against a really tough Charleston team."

How long has it been since his team had a day off?

"I couldn't even tell you," he said.