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William & Mary Men's hoops drops home opener to High Point

William & Mary basketball
Posted at 7:56 PM, Dec 19, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-19 19:56:17-05

WILLIAMSBURG, Va. (TirbeAthletics.com) - With one returning starter and four freshmen playing significant minutes, William & Mary coach Dane Fischer knew there might be days like these. That didn't make it any easier to take.

In Saturday afternoon's home opener at Kaplan Arena, the Tribe missed its first 10 shots and never found its rhythm in a 71-49 loss to High Point. W&M shot 29 percent from the field, its lowest figure in seven years, and trailed by double digits for the final 14½ minutes.

"There wasn't a lot of things we did well this afternoon," Fischer said. "You have to give credit to High Point for the way they came in and played, but I thought we were a step slow really the whole game. We could never get ourselves getting at the pace we needed to be on offense or defense.

"Offensively, we were really, really sloppy with the ball in the first half. … This has been a long stretch for us since we've been out of quarantine — three games in six days, I think it is — and that was maybe a part of it. But we've got a lot to learn and correct after this one."

Fischer said Saturday might have been a carryover from the second half of Wednesday night's 75-58 win at Hampton University. In the first half of that game, W&M scored 52 points on 57-percent shooting. After halftime, the Tribe added 23 points and had more turnovers (15) than baskets (eight).

Against High Point, W&M (2-2) had five turnovers on its first eight possessions. As the Tribe went 0-for-10 with six turnovers on its first 14 possessions, the Panthers scored the game's first 14 points.

"They play man-to-man defense, they hedge ball screens, and they really collapse when you drive it in the paint, which should be to our advantage," Fischer said. "But we weren't able to step up and knock down those 3s.

"We didn't create anything for ourselves in terms of getting to the rim or getting offensive put-backs. We couldn't get anything going in transition to get one that way. It was a constant struggle given the fact that the outside shot wasn't falling and in the half-court we were having a hard time getting something around the rim."

Luke Loewe led the Tribe with 13 points on 5-of-7 shooting but, as he had done so effectively in the previous two games, was unable to get to the rim on a consistent basis. Freshman Yuri Covington added 10 and shot 4-of-8 from the field. The rest of the team had 26 points on 7-of-40 accuracy.

A glance at the William & Mary roster shows eight players who are either freshmen or sophomores. Maybe ebbing and flowing is to be expected.

"I think that can happen regardless of the makeup of your team," Fischer said. "We had some games like this last year with a lot of seniors. One of the things we're trying to instill here is you've got to play hard every day, you've got to compete hard every day, and it takes a long time to get that to be second nature.

"Certainty, the younger you are, the more likely a game like this is. I told the guys afterward, hopefully we got ours out of the way here for the season."

William & Mary's next game is Tuesday at No. 17 Virginia. The Tribe then have a 10-day break before beginning Colonial Athletic Association play at Hofstra.