It certainly was not supposed to happen this way.
Wake Forest (4-1) was not supposed to shoot 25 percent in the first half, William and Mary (4-2) was not supposed to have three players in double figures.
Most importantly, the Tribe was not supposed to come out of Winston Salem, N.C. with more points than its previously unbeaten ACC foe. Yet, after a 78-68 final, the College completed all three of those for one of the biggest wins in the Tribe’s history.
“I thought defensively we were really good,” Head Coach Tony Shaver said on TribeRadio. “We made them shoot perimeter shots and they’re not a great shooting team. They had some kids not play as well as they are capable of, but I’d like to see our guys take a little bit of credit for that.”
Wake Forest Head Coach Dino Gaudio agreed.
“Twelve seconds and under (on the shot clock) they beat us off the dribble, off the bounce,” said Gaudio.
“I thought they played very well, they’re very well coached; they hit a couple of deep 3s when they had to, a couple of times with the shot clock winding down.”
Senior guard David Schneider led all scorers with 16 points, which he paired with a team-high 10 rebounds for his first double-double of the year. Senior guard Danny Sumner and sophomore forward Quinn McDowell netted 16 and 14 points, respectively.
Yet, it was the Tribe’s defense, not offense that guided the College to its fourth straight victory.
The Tribe’s match-up zone stymied the Demon Deacons’ potent transition by minimizing its turnovers and forcing Wake to take long three-pointers. The Demon Deacons took 36 three-pointers in all, making only 10.
Even when Wake did not settle for long jump shots, junior center Marcus Kitts stood tall inside. With senior center Steve Hess out of the contest due to illness, Kitts played 24 minutes, registering nine points and 10 rebounds.
“I thought we battled really hard on the boards,” Shaver said. “We did lose the battle by five, but we at least battled hard inside defensively.”
Kitts held Wake forward Al-Farouq Aminu to 11 points, despite Aminu’s game-high 20 rebounds. Aminu entered the contest averaging over 20 points per game. Kitts restrained Wake to 32 points in the paint, while the Tribe collected 26 points of its own down low.
Wake Forest’s last lead of the contest came with a 6-5 edge early on. The Demon Deacons would tie the game at 11-11 with 9:22 left in the first half, but the Tribe would stretch its lead to 11 points at 31-20 with just over a minute left in the half, shooting 46 percent in the opening frame.
Anxious moments early in the second half saw Wake slice the lead to four at 39-35. The Tribe recovered and the margin would not duck below five the rest of the way.
For the game, the Tribe shot 44 percent to Wake’s 35. The Demon Deacons entered the contest averaging 81 points per game to their opponents 56 points, while shooting over 50 percent from the floor.
The College returns home to face Longwood Wednesday at 7 p.m.
“If we don’t get a good crowd next week, we never will,” Shaver said. “If they can’t come watch these guys play than they may never. They deserve guys to be there, and I’m sure they will.”
Note – Tribe radio announcer Bill McDonald pulled extra difficult duty, announcing this game without a second commentator, due to the Tribe’s home football game. McDonald filled both shoes to the delight of William and Mary fans, who listened to his call of the upset.