As the snow came down Sunday, the Towson men’s basketball team tried to shovel itself out of a four-game losing skid. Unfortunately for the Tigers, William & Mary freshman Connor Kochera scored on a fastbreak with 13.4 seconds left to secure a 75-74 win.
Kochera had a game-high 30 points and added 12 rebounds. He shot 12-for-19 (63.1%) from the field and made five of seven free throws. His midrange jumper continued to be a thorn in Towson’s side, an ability that he developed growing his game in the Chicago area. That’s where William & Mary assistant Mike Howland discovered him, as they both attended Saint Viator in Arlington Heights, Illinois.
“We watched him play over the summer and we thought he had a real veteran presence about him as a kid that we recruited,” William & Mary coach Dane Fischer said. “We thought that he had unbelievable intangibles and the production that he’s showing right now is probably more than we anticipated coming into his freshman year. He just plays like a veteran and he works incredibly hard outside of practice and is a great guy in the film room.”
The end of the game rested within the hands of Kochera and Towson redshirt senior guard Zane Martin, who went back and forth attacking the basket. As Kochera hit a 3-pointer to give William & Mary a 67-64 lead with 4:45 to go, Martin fought back in the closing minutes, recording his 1,000th career point.
The Tribe’s 71-66 lead evaporated with two 3-pointers by Nicolas Timberlake (15 points) and Martin, but Luke Loewe hit a jumper on the right baseline to give William & Mary a 73-72 lead with 2:08 remaining.
Timberlake immediately drove into the chest of a defender for a layup to give Towson a 74-73 lead with 51.2 seconds left. However, after a timeout, the Tigers rushed a shot, which resulted in Kochera scoring an easy fastbreak layup for a 75-74 lead with just 13.4 seconds remaining.
Martin was intentionally fouled twice in the final seconds to slow down the pace. With the clock ticking down, his final 3-point attempt missed, and William & Mary walked away with the 75-74 victory, handing the Tigers their fifth straight loss.
Despite the miss, Towson coach Pat Skerry wanted to make sure that the ball was in the hands of his best player.
“He made a couple of big shots in the last couple of minutes,” Skerry said. “He’s our best one-on-one guy. We honestly ran a flat ball screen play that we have. One thing that probably hurt us a little bit is that they fouled three times when we tried to get the ball in. They still had one to give. I need to see the tape. I don’t know if there was a push or not. It happens. It happened so fast. It’s right if the ball goes in, if not they’ve got to pack it in there and force us to shoot.”
Redshirt sophomore guard Demetrius Mims (10 points, eight rebounds) and sophomore Jason Gibson (nine points) got things started for the Tigers (3-10, 2-6 Colonial Athletic Association) with back-to-back midrange jumpers from the right baseline. Towson’s aggressiveness netted several trips to the free-throw line in the early minutes, but the Tigers only went 1-for-3 before the 16-minute mark.
William & Mary (6-7, 1-2) took an early lead thanks to the hot hand of Kochera, who scored a quick 10 points as the Tribe shot 47% from the field. With just seven minutes left in the half, the Tigers went up 23-20 with junior guard Jakigh Dottin and Martin adding five points a piece.
Towson led 39-32 at the halftime, shooting 16-for-33 (48.5%) from the field. Martin led the Tigers with 10 points, while Kochera had 15 with William & Mary shooting 13-for-31 (41.9%) from the field.
Kochera immediately fired away in the second half, but Timberlake and Charles Thompson (game-high 15 rebounds) helped boost Towson’s lead to 55-47 with 13:13 left. The advantage was cut to four after Loewe (20 points) and Yuri Covington (11 points) each jumped into double figures with less than seven minutes remaining.
Saturday, 1 p.m.