By Jeremy Leopold
Marcus Thorton may not be a senior, but the junior William & Mary (17-10, 9-5 CAA) guard put up another stellar performance in a lopsided 81-67 victory over the Northeastern Huskies (9-20, 6-9 CAA) on the Tribe’s Senior Night.
All five William & Mary’s starters were seniors playing their final game in Kaplan Arena. But it was Thorton coming off the bench (he still logged 32 minutes) who stole the show, putting up 25 points along with four assists and two rebounds. For their part, Northeastern, a team statistically among the best defensively in the CAA, put up little resistance against Thorton and company, struggling with foul trouble and never getting closer than five points in the second half.
“I thought the emotion was on their side with Senior Day and I thought they played very, very well and just way too much Marcus Thorton. He’s a terrific player and every time we thought we kind of rallied for a comeback he had an answer for us,” said Northeastern Head Coach Bill Coen.
While Thorton, a CAA player-of-the-year candidate, had another great performance, Northeastern junior forward Scott Eatherton, also a candidate, struggled with foul trouble all game, playing only 18 minutes and logging five points and three rebounds along with a lone block. He still trails only Towson’s all-CAA forward Jerrelle Benimon in the national double-double race by one with 17.
“He picked up his third and his fourth pretty quickly and never really got into a rhythm offensively, and we rely on him, we need him to do a lot of things, not only score, but rebound and defend, so without him it makes the game a little bit more challenging,” said Coen.
Thorton not only lead all scorers with his 25 but put up that number efficiently, shooting 9-14 (64 percent) from the field and 5-7 (71 percent) from three, improving his already excellent 41 percent clip from deep.
“I think I was just more aggressive and probably playing more freely,” said Thorton in comparison to his nine point outing on Wednesday against the College of Charleston. “Sometimes I start thinking too much and that kind of takes a toll on my game, so, just having confidence in myself and never losing my confidence and playing more freely and trusting our offense I think helped me a lot today.”
For Northeastern, it was freshman guard T.J Williams leading the offense with 16 points to go along with his team-leading five assists. This is the second straight game Williams has lead the Huskies in scoring.
“I just think he’s playing at a really high level, he’s playing at a very confident pace, he’s distributing the ball, he’s scoring the ball,” said Coen. “That’s what happens at this time of the year, freshmen are no longer freshmen, and he’s certainly playing more like an upperclassman.”
With the win, the Tribe are guaranteed the third seed going into the CAA tournament. For the Huskies, the loss puts them two games behind in the loss column in the race for fourth. With only one game remaining, Northeastern would need a win and some help to get that fourth seed.
Northeastern’s final regular season game is against the Drexel Dragons, on March 1 in Mathews Arena. It will be the Huskies’ Senior Night, where they will honor their lone player in his final year, Chris Avanant, prior to the game.
Game Notes: David Walker added 12 points for the Huskies. Demetrius Pollard also contributed with ten points and four assists. Zach Stahl finished with nine points and ten rebounds, one point short of his second double-double of the year.
For the Tribe, senior forward Tim Rusthoven filled out the stat sheet with 12 points, five assists, five rebounds, and a block in just 17 minutes. Senior Guard Brandon Britt put up 11 points and three boards.