WILLIAMSBURG — William and Mary's lapses have varying lengths, characteristics and occur at different times of each game. The common thread is that every sequence leads to yet another frustrating, head-scratching loss.
The Tribe's faceplant du jour Saturday was at the offensive end in the second half, which allowed an equally desperate Drexel team to gain separation and pull away for a 59-48 win at Kaplan Arena.
The Dragons (6-11, 2-3 Colonial Athletic Association) snapped a three-game losing streak and handed W&M its seventh consecutive loss. The Tribe (7-10, 1-5) hasn't won since Dec. 21 and hasn't beaten a Division I opponent since a Dec. 8 win at Radford.
"It's frustrating, but I think the reason it's frustrating is we know we can be so good," said Tribe forward Tim Rusthoven, who scored 15 of his team-high 19 points in the second half. "Everyone in that locker room believes we can play with anybody in the country. I think that's where the frustration sets in, where we know we can be so good. We just need to find a way to do it on a consistent basis."
Rusthoven, Marcus Thornton and Brandon Britt combined for 46 of the Tribe's season-low 48 points. They were the only three players to make field goals, as the Tribe shot 32.7 percent — the fifth time in the past six games it's shot less than 40 percent.
Conversely, Drexel shot 45 percent in the second half and received contributions from seven players. All-conference guard Frantz Massenat led the Dragons with 19 points. Guard Damion Lee, who had been on the shelf of late with a knee injury, provided a boost off of the bench with 10 points, five rebounds and four assists.
"This ain't been one of our greatest places to come to play," said Drexel coach Bruiser Flint, whose team had lost five of the previous six at Kaplan. "We just played really well defensively. Both teams are searching, both teams have been struggling. I knew it was going to be a tough game. Both teams are looking for wins."
Drexel, the prohibitive CAA favorite, has had injury issues. Senior guard and double-figure scorer Chris Fouch suffered a fractured ankle against Penn in November and is likely out for the season. Burly center Daryl McCoy has foot pain that sidelined him for the past week. Lee, the CAA Rookie of the Year in 2012, missed the past two games with that knee injury.
W&M's travails have been more mental and on the execution end. The Tribe coughed up a seven-point lead in the final two minutes of regulation in an eventual double-overtime loss at Towson. W&M couldn't overcome a dismal start at Hofstra in the next game and fell 70-59.
The Tribe led by 14 late in the first half at Georgia State last Wednesday, then was outscored by 30 in the final 23 minutes of a 74-58 loss.
On Saturday, Rusthoven's two free throws at 16:36 got the Tribe within 39-31. From there, William and Mary missed 12 of its next 13 shots as Drexel opened a 50-34 lead. Britt's layup at the 5:18 mark provided W&M's first points of the entire half by someone other than Rusthoven.
"We just weren't executing like we should have," Thornton said. "Credit to Drexel. They play good defense. I'm sure they did a good scout on our offense, but we still didn't run our offense as well as we would have liked to, and on the other end we didn't guard as well as we would have liked to."
Thornton had 11 points in the first half, but managed just three in the second half and missed 7 of 8 shots.
"We made him put the ball on the floor," Flint said. "We made him score off the bounce instead of just catch and shoot. That was the thing. I thought we did a good job as a team of swarming. We helped out when he did get by us."
Said Thornton: "I thought I had good looks. I just missed some shots I normally make."
When Drexel runs its half-court offense patiently and precisely, an eight- or 10-point deficit seems a much steeper climb.
"It's a team that's very difficult to get down to," Tribe coach Tony Shaver said, "because you're not going to get a lot of cheap baskets, and they're going to kill a lot of shot clock."
Shaver and the staff have searched for ways to minimize the lapses. One contributing factor, he said, is the lack of offensive balance. The trio of Thornton, Britt and Rusthoven have scored nearly 75 percent of W&M's points in CAA games. The imbalance seems to affect other areas, such as defense, rebounding and focus.
"It comes down to mental toughness," Thornton said. "Being able to come out in the second half and knowing what needs to be done and doing it. Not have those lapses or at least let them stretch so long."
DREXEL 59, W&M 48
DREXEL (6-11, 2-3): Abif 1-3 3-4 5, Allen 2-7 2-2 7, Massenat 7-14 2-2 19, Ruffin 4-7 0-0 8, Thomas 3-7 0-0 8, Lee 4-10 0-0 10, Pantovic 0-1 0-0 0, Younger 0-0 2-2 2. Totals 21-49 9-10 59.
WILLIAM AND MARY (7-10, 1-5): Britt 5-13 3-3 13, Gaillard 0-3 2-2 2, Rum 0-2 0-0 0, Rusthoven 6-12 6-6 19, Thornton 5-15 0-0 14, Boatner 0-1 0-0 0, Schalk 0-1 0-0 0, Sheldon 0-1 0-0 0, Tarpey 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 16-49 11-11 48.
Half—Drexel 32-24. 3-point goals—Drexel 8-19 (Massenat 3-8, Thomas 2-4, Lee 2-6, Allen 1-1), W&M 5-14 (Thornton 4-6, Rusthoven 1-1, Boatner 0-1, Gaillard 0-1, Rum 0-1, Tarpey 0-1, Britt 0-3). Rebounds—Drexel 35 (Ruffin 11), W&M 26 (Rusthoven 6). Assists—Drexel 12 (Lee, Massenat 4), W&M 5 (Rum 2). Fouls—Drexel 14, W&M 12. A—3,215.Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times