William and Mary coach Tony Shaver summed up a season opening game between two young basketball teams thusly:
"Our freshmen played like freshmen," Shaver said after Virginia rolled the Tribe 76-52 Friday at John Paul Jones Arena. "It's a tough environment for them to get their feet wet in college basketball. Their freshmen played like upperclassmen, I think."
Indeed, the fingerprints of Virginia's large, promising freshman class were all over Friday's win. Guard Billy Baron came off the bench to lead all scorers with 19 points, and guard K.T. Harrell added 13.
Baron made 5 of 6 shots from 3-point range and Harrell 2 of 4 from behind the arc as the Cavaliers ran away in the second half. Virginia shot 50 percent from the field and made more than half of its 3-point attempts (12-for-23), which occurred only twice all of last season.
"He really gave us the spark we needed," Virginia coach Tony Bennett said of Baron. "You have to stick some outside shots against them, and he was a big lift for us. He's got the ability to stretch it, not just from the 3-point line, but a step or two back."
Baron scored all 13 of his second-half points during a 4 1/2-minute span in which Virginia turned a 46-41 lead into a 65-44 spread.
William and Mary isn't close to the same team that defeated ACC squads Maryland and Wake Forest on the road last season and carried North Carolina and Connecticut to the final minutes.
The Tribe miss veterans David Schneider, Danny Sumner and Sean McCurdy from that team. Still, W&M had the pace it wanted Friday and had open looks in the first 25 minutes, but was unable to make shots (18-for-48) or hold off Virginia forward Mike Scott (18 points, 9 rebounds), particularly in the second half.
"In the first half, we were able to stay with them, but in the second half we did not match Virginia's physicality," said junior forward Quinn McDowell, who led the Tribe with 16 points. "We're never going to win games giving up the points we surrendered while shooting the way we did tonight."
Neither team has been able to prepare with all of its pieces. Cavaliers' junior guard Sammy Zeglinski has been out following knee surgery and isn't expected to return until at least mid-December.
W&M center Marcus Kitts missed several weeks with mononucleosis, and guard Kendrix Brown has had ankle problems that limited his practice time.
Kitts was only cleared to play earlier in the week, and Shaver didn't decide to play him until the last minute.
Baron and Harrell provided the perimeter offense Virginia needed against the Tribe's zone, and W&M was sloppier on offense in the second half with seven turnovers and too many unproductive trips.
"I think everyone started off with the jitters," Scott said, "but in the second half we came at them strong."Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun