William & Mary edges out Elon in CAA Quarterfinals 71-66

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Senior Omar Prewitt scored 20 points, and snagged 13 rebounds in a win over Elon.

Senior Omar Prewitt scored 20 points, and snagged 13 rebounds in a win over Elon.

CHARLESTON, S.C. – Trailing with five minutes remaining in its Colonial Athletic Association Quarterfinal, the William & Mary men’s basketball team used a senior-led 17-3 run to surge past Elon, 71-66, on Saturday afternoon. Seniors Omar Prewitt and Daniel Dixon combined for 40 points, including 12 of the Tribe’s final 17, to go along with 19 rebounds and seven assists in leading the Tribe (17-13) to its fourth-straight semifinal appearance.

Prewitt and Dixon both scored 20 points, the fifth time this season the duo both hit the 20-point mark. Prewitt tallied his seventh career double-double, adding a career-high tying 13 rebounds and four assists. Dixon chipped in six rebounds and three assists. Sophomore Paul Rowley provided a huge lift off the bench with 11 points on 4-of-6 shooting, including 3-of-4 from 3-point range, while junior Greg Malinowski added nine points on 3-of-8 from 3-point range to go along with five rebounds.

Elon (18-14) led 60-54 with 4:54 remaining following four-straight Steven Santa Ana points. Dixon immediately answered with a deep 3-pointer to spark an 8-0 run. After a pair of David Cohn free throws closed the gap to a single point, Dixon drove the right side of the lane and kicked out to Malinowski for a wide-open 3-pointer, giving W&M a 62-60 lead with 1:50 remaining.

After a pair of Elon free throws tied the game 30 seconds later, Dixon put the Tribe on top for good with a driving layup at the 1:14 mark. The Green and Gold led 64-63 when Dixon was stripped driving to the hoop. In a play eerily similar to a loose ball that led to a clinching 3-pointer for Elon in its January win over the Tribe, Whitman came out of the scrum with the basketball and found Prewitt on the wing. The Tribe senior canned the triple with just 33 seconds left to extend the lead to 67-63 and the cement the Tribe’s advancement. Dixon scored nine of the Tribe’s final 17, including a perfect 4-of-4 from the free throw line in the final 20 seconds. Defensively, W&M held Elon without a field goal for over six minutes, before a 3-pointer with two seconds remaining.

The Tribe shot 53.8 percent (14-of-26) from the field in the final 20 minutes and finished the contest at 41.4 percent (24-of-58). W&M was 10-of-32 (31.3 percent) from 3-point range and connected on 13-of-21 (61.9 percent) at the free throw line. The Green and Gold outrebounded Elon, 42-38.

Defensively, the Tribe limited the Phoenix to 38.1 percent (24-of-63) from the field, while Elon connected on 11-of-34 (32.4 percent) from 3-point range. Brian Dawkins led the Phoenix with 19 points and nine rebounds, while Tyler Seibring added 14 points and seven rebounds.

Prewitt scored 11 of W&M’s first 16 points, staking the Tribe to the early lead. He knocked down a pair of threes in the opening four minutes and then an old-fashion 3-point play at the 13:10 mark. After rejecting a shot on the defensive end to start the break, Prewitt was fouled on drive to the hoop and his free throws at the 12:58 mark extend the margin to 16-7. W&M’s lead reach as much as 12, 21-9, on a Rowley 3-pointer with 10:20 remaining.

Elon started the game 3-of-its-first-17 from the floor, including just 1-of-12 from three. The Phoenix hit six-straight shots, including four 3-pointers. Elon used an 11-0 run, including back-to-back triples from Brian Dawkins and Danian Swoope to pull even at 23 at the 7:26 mark.

Four quick Tribe points put the Green and Gold back in front. Whitman scored on an offensive put-back, before a Dixon alley-oop to Prewitt on the break put W&M on top, 27-23, less than a minute later.

The Phoenix scored 10 of the half’s final 13 points to take a three-point lead, 33-30, in the locker room. Dawkins scored four of his 14 first-half points during the run, sending Elon to the break with the lead.

W&M scored four-straight points out of the locker room on lay-ups by Whitman and Prewitt to briefly retake the lead. The Phoenix responded by hitting a trio of 3-pointers in a row from Santa Ana, Dmitri Thompson and Dawkins to open up a 44-39 lead just four and a half minutes into the second half.

Rowley eventually pulled the Tribe even midway through the second half with eight-straight W&M points. He knocked down a pair of 3-pointers during the stretch with the second tying the contest at with 11:13 left.

The Tribe advances to the CAA Semifinals for the fourth-straight season and face regular season champion UNW on Sunday afternoon. Tip-off is slated for 2 p.m., and the contest will be televised on Comcast SportsNet with Al Koken and John Feinstein on the call. Fans can also follow the action on CAA.TV. Click HERE for the TV clearances for Saturday’s quarterfinal.