WILLIAMSBURG — William and Mary looked like a team whose players had a history with each other. Hampton looked like a team integrating nine new faces.
Displaying more cohesion and teamwork, the Tribe logged a successful debut with a 69-51 win Friday at Kaplan Arena in the season opener for both teams.
"I thought our guys played exceptionally well at times and a little sloppy at times," Tribe coach Tony Shaver said. "There are probably a lot of reasons for that: opening night; Hampton's pressure I think bothered us at times; and maybe we haven't learned yet that you have to play every possession, that they all really matter. But I'm very happy for the guys."
Marcus Thornton's 24 points led three players in double figures as the Tribe opened a 25-point lead midway through the second half. W&M withstood a Hampton run that cut the lead to 12, and Thornton hit one of his six 3-pointers to stem the tide.
Tim Rusthoven added 18 points and seven rebounds, while guard Brandon Britt had 17 points, four assists and three steals. Forward Kyle Gaillard, who missed all of last season with a leg injury, contributed eight rebounds, and Matt Rum handed out seven assists.
William and Mary already has a leg up on the start of last season, when injuries resulted in a depleted roster and eventually led to a 6-26 record.
"It was great to have everyone at the start of practice, all the way through practice and preseason," Thornton said. "We were really able to build that chemistry and our team meshed well together. We worked hard, and I think it paid off tonight."
The Tribe recorded 20 assists on 22 field goals. Six players logged at least two assists.
Hampton coach Ed Joyner Jr. was encouraged, particularly given his group's inexperience. He saw the light come on for a handful of his players in the second half of their debut Division I games.
"Don't want to lose, don't like to lose, don't like the way we lost," Joyner said, "but I'm starting three freshmen. They're going to take some bumps and bruises 'til they get it. And we're in this for the long haul. I do understand that."
Du'Vaughn Maxwell, a junior college transfer playing his first Division I game, and freshman guard Ke'Ron Brown led the Pirates with 10 points apiece.
Center David Bruce scored all nine of his points and grabbed six of his seven points in the second half. Freshman point guard Deron Powers from Williamsburg had nine points and two assists.
"You're talking about nine newcomers and nine returners," Joyner said, comparing the two rosters. "That's not an excuse. I'm not here to make excuses. We have to do things and play better — I'm not going to say play better, play stronger."