For the second time in a week, the William and Mary men’s basketball team dropped a heartbreaking overtime affair this time falling in double OT in the championship of the Liberty Thanksgiving Classic to the host Flames, 80-74, on Saturday night. The College rallied from an 11-point deficit with 3:57 remaining in regulation to force overtime, but Liberty scored the final nine points of the second overtime period to pull out the victory. W&M fell to 3-4 on the season, while LU improved to 4-1.
Juniors David Schneider and Danny Sumner each finished with 23 points in the loss and earned All-Tournament team honors in the process. Schneider, who required stitches and lost a tooth toward the end of the first half after diving out of bounds to save the ball, tied his career-high seven 3-pointers, while taking a W&M school-record 23 attempts from deep. The seven long balls were the fourth most in Tribe history. The Phoenix, Ariz., native also tallied a game and career-high tying seven assists compared to just one turnover in 45 minutes of action. Sumner tallied his fifth straight game of 20-plus points, becoming the first W&M player in nearly 40 years to accomplish the feat. The last Tribe player to pull the trick was Bob Sherwood during the 1969-70 season.
After the Tribe cut Liberty’s lead to five, 50-45, on a Schneider triple with 5:39 remaining, the Flames scored six straight points to take its largest lead of the game at 56-45 on a pair of Kyle Ohman free throws at the 3:57 mark. The College forced overtime by scoring 15 of the final 19 points in regulation to knot the game at 60.
Senior forward Chris Darnell knocked down a trey from the left wing to narrow the margin to 57-54, following four straight Green and Gold points from the charity stripe. W&M traded three for two as Schneider pulled W&M within two points, 59-57, after Jesse Sanders converted on a pair of free throws for the Flames. With 35 seconds remaining, Johnny Stephene hit 1-of-2 from the foul stripe to give Liberty a 60-57 advantage, setting up the final sequence of regulation. Schneider converted on a three from the left wing with 22.4 seconds remaining on the clock to tie the game, and the Flames could not find the mark on the offensive end as the contest went to extra time.
In the first overtime session, the lead bounced back and forth as the Tribe opened up a 65-62 advantage on a Schneider 3-pointer at the 4:26 mark. LU responded, scoring the game’s next six points to take a three-point lead of its own, 68-65, following a Seth Curry floater and a pair of free throws from Sanders. Rookie Quinn McDowell, who knocked down a three against Navy in the second OT one week prior to force a third extra period, pulled the Tribe even with a wide-open trey from the right side off a lob over the top of the defense from Schneider. With under a minute remaining, the College got the ball to Sumner at the foul line and the 6-7 wing drilled a jumper to give W&M a 70-68 lead. The Tribe forced an errant shot from Liberty, and freshman Kendrix Brown was fouled away from the ball with 28 seconds remaining in overtime. The Norfolk, Va., native knocked down 1-of-2 from the free throw line to extend the lead to 71-68.
Curry knotted the game once again at 71 with 18 seconds remaining on a 3-pointer from the right side. Liberty got the ball to their leading scorer, and the freshman guard pump-faked to get a W&M player flying by before connecting on the 3-pointer. The College had a final look for the win, but Sumner’s 3-pointer from the top of the key was off-line and the game went to a second five-minute overtime session.
In the second extra period, the Tribe again jumped out to the three-point advantage, 74-71, on a trifecta from the right side by Schneider less than 30 seconds into the period. Curry responded with a floater on the offensive end for Liberty to narrow the margin to one at 74-73. The Flames took the lead for good, 75-74, on a fast-break lay-up with 2:13 remaining. W&M had a pair of chances to take the lead or tie over the final two minutes but couldn’t find the mark. Sumner had a jumper come up short with 1:04 remaining that would have given W&M the lead. After a Curry bucket extended the lead to three points, Sumner again had an opportunity for the tie on a 3-pointer from the left side, but it was off the mark, and LU closed out the 80-74 win.
W&M will continue its road trip at Loyola (Chicago) on Tuesday, Dec. 2, at 8 p.m. The game will be televised as part of the ESPN Full Court package and will also be available over the Internet at both ESPN360.com and HorizonLeagueNetwork.tv. Fans can once again catch all the action on 92.3fm The Tide and 107.9fm WBACH with Jay Colley and Bill McDonald on the call. Live stats will also be available for the contest at LoyolaRamblers.com.