TULSA, Okla. (AP) — Marquel Curtis scored a career-high 21 points and Tulsa held off William & Mary 70-67 on Tuesday in the first round of the NIT.
Tulsa squandered most of a 21-point second-half lead before holding on.
Curtis made a 3-pointer with 1:20 to play to give Tulsa (23-10) a 69-63 lead. Terry Tarpey missed a potential game-tying 3-pointer at the buzzer.
“The coaches would have been yelling at me if I hadn’t shot it,” Curtis said. “They’re always telling me to be more aggressive. Tonight I was able to get some angles and get to the rim.”
James Woodard had 15 points and 10 rebounds and Rashad Smith added 13 points and eight rebounds for Tulsa, which scored the first 10 points of the second half and led 57-36 with 13:01 left.
Marcus Thornton, the Colonial Athletic Association Player of the Year, led the William & Mary (20-13) comeback and finished with 23 points. Omar Prewitt had 15 points and 11 rebounds and Tarpey added 14 points for the Tribe.
“I wish we hadn’t got down 21 points, but I was proud of the way we came back and battled in a tough situation,” said William & Mary coach Tony Shaver. “Tulsa’s quickness and athleticism gave us a lot of trouble and their guards are really good, maybe the best we’ve played all year. Still we had a chance to tie and could have won.”
The Tribe switched to a 1-3-1 zone midway through the second half that gave Tulsa fits. The Hurricane scored just three baskets in the final eight minutes, but held on by limiting the Tribe to 33.8 percent shooting (22 of 65). The Tribe ranks seventh in the country in field goal percentage at 48.9.
After Brandon Swannegan made one of two free throws to give Tulsa the 70-67 lead with 27 seconds left, Thornton missed a 3-pointer. Tulsa’s Rashad Ray then missed the front end of a 1-and-1 with 20 seconds left. The Tribe got an open look for Tarpey with a second left, but it missed left.
“They give you a lot to prepare for in one day with the Princeton offense and all the backdoor cuts and screens,” said Tulsa coach Frank Haith. “I thought our kids did a good job defensively, we just got passive against the zone and started making turnovers, plus we gave up too many offensive rebounds.”
Tulsa withstood a 3-point barrage in the first half to take a 39-32 lead, after the best scoring half of the season for Curtis, who made 4 of 6 field goals. Most were on driving, spinning layups, to finish the half with 13.
William & Mary: The Tribe fired up 18 treys in the first half, the most by a Tulsa opponent in a half this season, connecting on seven to stay close.
Tulsa: The Hurricane shot 51.7 percent in the first half and scored 39 points by halftime, just three points less than its 47-42 loss to UConn in the American Conference semifinals Saturday.
William & May: Season over.
Tulsa: will play Murray State in the second round.