Marcus Thornton

Baltimore Madness

Once again I gotta give credit to the Colonial Athletic Conference for bringing their tournament to the city of Baltimore.

With 4 teams remaining, and 1 games left, the pressure and madness increases. 

GAME-WINNER. What an effort by both teams today. #CAAHoops @tribeathletics

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William & Mary vs. Hofstra turned out to be one the greatness I ever witnessed live in action.

It had everything one would want out of a classic basketball game. You had the underdog in Hofstra, who was playing with a chip on their shoulder, losing to W&M twice this season; and you had the heavily-favorite W&M squad forced to make something happen with their back against the wall. 

William & Mary started the game with a 19-9 run, Marcus Thornton, who had a career day with 37 points (CAA Tournament record), scoring 5 of the Tribe's first 9 points.

It look like the Tribe would walk away with this one, but then they would  go 1-6 on their next 7 shots while the Pride took the lead with a 13-2 run. By the end of the 1st half, Hofstra had a 35-32 lead but Marcus Thornton and Omar Prewitt combined for 25 points. 

 Some great individual numbers were posted in this game.

Juan'ya Green led the Pride with 26, shooting 50% from the field and was 4-9 from behind the arc. I was very impressed with the junior from Philadelphia, mainly because he didn't back down from the best player in the conference. When Marcus would make a play, Juan'ya would come back with one of his own.

Just off the top of my head, I'm picking Juan'ya to win the conference player of the year award. 

Senior guard Dion Nesmith scored 21 but fouled out in the first overtime period. 

In the second half, the Pride was up 68-59 with 5 minutes remaining, thanks to 3 straight three pointers, two of which coming from Brian Bernardi. Bernardi scored all of his 17 points in the 2nd half and overtime periods, and was the main reason why the Pride almost won this game.

W&M would go on a 9-2 run, Omar Prewitt being the main contributor for the run, not only by scoring 6 of the 9, but also hitting the boards heavy. 

Bernardi hit another three to extend the lead to five with 1:41 left but the Tribe finished the period with a 5-0 run provided by Marcus Thornton, sending it into overtime. Free throws is what killed W&M, going 19-34 in the 2nd half and overtime periods. 

It's hard to really explain how good this game was. There were a total of 18 lead changes in the final 30 minutes of the game. 4 players scored 20+ and the crowd was the best it been all tournament, not to mention Dixon's game winning shot.

W&M will now try to get the bad taste from last year's final out of their mouth tomorrow night at 7pm against Northeastern. 

CAA Tournament: Tribe extinguish Elon

William & Mary came into this tournament being the top seed for the first time in school history. Of course they are the favorite, but like I said before, this tournament is wide open and anything can happen. Coming into the quarterfinal game, Elon is on a nice 4-game win streak, and came up with a big win against The Tribe at home earlier this season, 85-79, Elijah Bryant scoring 25 points off the bench. In that game both teams combined, attempted 56 trey balls, today was no different. 

Both teams combined for 52 trey ball attempts in their quarterfinal matchup. The Tribe were the ones who converted majority of those attempts, shooting 38% (11-29) from the behind the arc, while Elon was 30% (7-23) 

Defense is what really got the Tribe the victory today though. They made Elon work for every bucket early on, contesting every three point attempt. Elon didn't have a lot of spacing to work with on the perimeter, which you can give credit to Terry Tarpey and Omar Prewitt, who did an excellent job on Elijah Bryant and Tanner Samson. 

Tarpey is the leagues best defensive player and I think the best co-star a team could have. Tarpey leads the conference in rebounds, steals, and block shots, which makes life easier for scoring threat Marcus Thornton. Today, Tarpey finished with 8 points, 9 boards, 5 dimes, and 3 steals. 

Prewitt finished with 16 points. 

Thornton, Prewitt, and Daniel Dixon, outscored Elon's 3 guards 45-33. Thornton, who is the school's best scorer, got off to a slow start, scoring his first bucket at the 8 minute mark in the first half. He would finish the half with 8 points, 2-4 from behind the line. He ended the first half with a buzzer beater 3-pointer that almost didn't happen. Thornton, trying to set up the offense for the final play of the half, lost track of time in the closing seconds. Coach Tony Shaver, eventually yelled Marcus name, and Thornton instinctively, managed to get up the shot right before the buzzer, hitting all net. 

Like I said this game was all about defense. Elon only had one lead during the game, which was 6-5 in the first 2 minutes of the game, from then on it was all William & Mary. In the first 5 minutes of the game, Elon committed 4 turnovers which really hurt them early on. The Tribe also finished with 6 steals and 6 blocks.

Elijah Bryant ends his stellar freshman season with 15 points. William & Mary will now play Hofstra in the semi-final round Sunday at 2:30pm. The Tribe defeated the Pride twice this season, last game being a 80-78 victory on the road February 22nd. 

Street Interviews: Marcus Thornton

After his 17 point performance against Elon in the CAA quarterfinals, I caught up with William & Mary's Marcus Thornton to talk about his expectations for the rest of the tournament and playing 45 minutes away from his hometown of DC. 

Thornton is the All-time leader in points and 3-point shots at William & Mary. He is ranked 11th all-time in CAA history with 2,081 points (David Robinson all-time leader with 2,669 points) and 5th in 3 pointers made with 305 (Brent Blizzard leader with 371. Played at UNCW 2000-03). 

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