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William & Mary women's basketball falls to Richmond in home opener

William & Mary
Posted at 7:27 PM, Dec 06, 2020

In the first and fourth quarters Sunday afternoon, William & Mary played Richmond to a draw. The middle two periods were another matter.

By dominating the interior, both offensively and defensively, the Spiders led by double digits for the final 22 minutes in a 72-55 win over the Tribe at Kaplan Arena. Richmond outscored W&M 36-18 in the paint, finished plus-11 on the boards and blocked six shots.

W&M (0-2) scored the game's first basket on a 3-pointer by Nyla Pollard [tribeathletics.com], but it was downhill the rest of the way.

"I thought we started the game off well offensively," W&M coach Ed Swanson [tribeathletics.com] said. "We were moving the ball well, but we kind of got away from that for a long period in the first half and really dug ourselves a hole.

"We have to do a better job of trusting ourselves — in terms of making stops, sustaining possessions and making the extra pass. I think one of the reasons we're shooting so poorly is because of the shot selection we're taking. We're not making that extra pass. And, defensively, our intensity level drops."

W&M got off to a good start and played its best basketball of the day in the fourth quarter. But in the second and third quarters, Richmond outscored the Tribe 40-23.

Addie Budnik, a 6-foot-2 freshman, scored 13 of her 23 points in the second half on 4-of-5 shooting. Guards Kate Klimkiewicz and Claire Holt, who both finished with 11, also hurt the Tribe's defense in the paint.

"It wasn't only their post players," Swanson said. "Their guards were able to drive by at times and get paint touches off the bounce. That's something we've got to correct, and it goes back to our focus level and commitment to the defensive side. It's just not where it needs to be yet."

In two games this season, the Tribe has given up 53-percent shooting on attempts from inside the 3-point and been outscored 62-30 in the paint.

Offensively, W&M shot better from beyond the 3-point arc (38 percent, 8-of-21) than in front of it (32 percent, 11-of-34). Pollard and Sydney Wagner [tribeathletics.com] each finished with 14 points. Pollard also had six rebounds, four assists and five steals.

Pollard gave the Tribe some hope in the fourth quarter. In a 29-second stretch, she made a 3-pointer, got a steal, and knocked down a pair of free throws to cut Richmond's lead — which had been 20 points — to 62-50 with 5:38 remaining.

"In the fourth quarter, I thought we fed off Nyla's defensive intensity," Swanson said. "Last year, she was more that defensive specialist, but we're asking her this year to pick up her offense and look for her shot a little more. Which is out of her character a little bit.

"I was happy with how we fought back there in the second half. I felt we had a good fourth quarter and saw a semblance of how we can play."

W&M is 0-2 for the first time since the 2013-14 season, Swanson's first at William & Mary. It shouldn't be completely unexpected given that the Tribe is replacing its top two scorers — including Eva Hodgson [tribeathletics.com], a junior who opted out due to COVID-19 concerns — and had little prep time before practice began.

"Not having the summer hurt, especially the younger kids," Swanson said. "When school started back up, that's when we started. We have to find our new identity. We're working extremely hard and I think we've had some really good practices, but we have some people and pieces playing out of position.

"Syd wasn't our primary ball-handler last year. Bre (Bellamy) has moved up to the wing spot for us. It's going to take a little time to jell and find that chemistry. We will because we have high-character kids who work extremely hard. We'll figure this out and get better as the season goes on."

Next up, the Tribe is scheduled to play at Radford (0-2), which on Sunday lost 69-58 Marshall, Wednesday night.