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CAA Game 7: William & Mary Tops Towson to Advance to Championship

William & Mary's Mascot, Griffin, celebrates with a member of the Pep Band

William & Mary’s Mascot, Griffin, celebrates the win with a member of the Pep Band with a High-Five.

William & Mary defeated Towson tonight in the second semifinal game of the CAA Championship, 75-71. The game went back and forth throughout the entire first half as the lead changed eight times until the score was tied 36-36 at the break. A minute into the second half, Brandon Britt scored on a tough layup to give the Tribe a 38-36 lead. From that moment on Towson never caught up.

The game was always close as Towson kept the score between two and eight throughout the second half and had plenty of chances to get it closer, but they failed to do so. With 18.1 seconds left to play Towson had the ball down by two. They naturally put the ball in the hands of the CAA Player of the Year, Jerrelle Benimon, who finished with 18 points and five rebounds. Benimon drove the ball to the hoop but was converged on by three William & Mary players and lost the ball out of bounds. Benimon was guarded very tightly the entire night by Kyle Gaillard, who Coach Tony Shaver said he would give the game’s MVP award to. Gaillard finished with 12 points.

The Tribe also had stellar play for the second straight night from their guard combo of Marcus Thornton and Brandon Britt. Thornton was the game’s leading scorer with 21 points on 7-13 shooting. His most impressive shot of the night came with 2:00 left in the first half with Towson up 35-32 as he hit a shot-clock beating, NBA range, three pointer and drew the foul. He made the free throw giving William & Mary the rare four-point play and a one point lead. Like the night before, we mostly saw Thornton knocking down jump shots. Britt scored 16 points on 6-10 shooting and was almost unstoppable on his drives to the basket.

William & Mary as a team shot 55 percent from the floor and 11-22 from behind the arc. Tim Rusthoven, a second team All-CAA forward, scored 10 points in just 20 minutes. Rusthoven was a force in the paint, but he picked up four quick fouls. Coach Shaver said, “We are having a hard time keeping Tim on the floor, we play on a different level when he is on the floor.” Rusthoven fouled out with 2:40 seconds left to play.

Shaver will hope that Rusthoven can stay out of foul trouble tomorrow night as William & Mary takes on top-seeded Delaware for the CAA Championship at 7pm. He’ll also need the same caliber game out of Thornton and Britt who get the challenge of the talented trio of Davon Usher, Devon Saddler, and Jarvis Threatt.

Scott Zolotorow