Nov. 19, 1997

Virginia Defeats William & Mary

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. - Four nights earlier, Virginia let a supposedly weaker opponent hang around in the second half.

The Cavaliers learned something from their 83-79 double-overtime loss to Richmond on Sunday. Wednesday, they held William & Mary scoreless for 9:40 of the second half en route to a 59-45 victory. The Cavaliers (1-1) led 38-31 with 13:00 left when veterans Norman Nolan and Curtis Staples gathered the Cavaliers during a timeout.

"We struggled for a while. Curtis and myself talked to the guys and we told them, we don't need a reoccurrence of what happened on Sunday," Nolan said. "We needed to buckle down defensively and not make the same mistakes."

William & Mary did not score on its next 19 possessions, following behind 50-31 before Randy Bracy hit a layup with 3:20 remaining. History did not repeat itself in part because William & Mary couldn't hit its shots. Richmond beat the Cavaliers with late 3-pointers. Wednesday night, William & Mary got no open shots from long range. "I think that was really important because that was the time period that Richmond came back and ultimately won the game," Willie Dersch said. "We huddled up and we were like, 'First things first. Forget about offense and just concentrate on defense."

"We sure didn't win at the offensive end tonight," Virginia coach Jeff Jones said. "But we still have a long, long, long way to go defensively."

Neither team could make free throws or, for that matter, shots. The Cavaliers were 22-for-53 (41.5 percent) from the floor, shot 52.4 percent (11-for-21) from the line, and turned the ball over 15 times. William & Mary was worse: 28.8 percent (17 of 59) from the floor, 31.6 percent (6 of 19) from the line and 14 turnovers. "We didn't shoot it at all," Tribe coach Charlie Woollum said. "... To be humorous, I could say their best defense was to send us to the free-throw line."

Nolan led the Cavaliers with 17 points and 11 rebounds, and Staples added 15 points, including back-to-back 3-pointers in a 23-4 first-half run that gave Virginia a 30-20 halftime lead. The Tribe, led by Randy Bracy's 18 points, hung around at the start of the second half, closing the score to 35-29 with 15:35 left after Terence Jennings ended a fast break with a dunk.

Two-and-a-half minutes later, the Virginia defense clamped down. The Tribe had more fouls (23) than field goals (17). "Half our team are freshmen," Woollum said. "When the veterans don't step up and show some poise, you don't expect the freshman to. ... We missed some shots early and then we panicked and took bad shots."