WILLIAMSBURG, Va. -- Led by a trio of players scoring in double figures, including some hot 3-point shooting in the second half from guard Marcus Thornton, William & Mary pulled away from I-64 rival Hampton for a 69-51 win at Kaplan Arena in the season opener for both teams.
Thornton led all scorers with 24 points, going 6-for-9 from beyond the 3-point arc.
"I thought our guys played exceptionally well at times, a little sloppy at times," said Tribe coach Tony Shaver. "There's probably a lot of reasons for that -- opening night, Hampton's pressure, (which) bothered us at times, and maybe we haven't learned yet that you've got to play every possession. They all matter."
Hampton had trouble containing the penetration of the Tribe point guard Brandon Britt, as he made 5-of-8 shots, and 7-of-9 free throws for 17 points while handing out four assists and committing just one turnover.
"He just really saw the floor nicely tonight and he played under control poise," Shaver said.
Britt's penetrating drives, along with the inside presence of 6-foot-9 forward Tim Rusthoven, who tallied 18 points and 7 rebounds, stretched Hampton's defense across the floor. That left open 3-point shots for Thornton, who scored his 24 points on 11 shots.
"He's learned to play a complete game," Shaver said of Thornton. "I think other than a few tired, sloppy turnovers tonight, he was sensational."
Coming off a 12-21 season a year ago, Hampton started three freshmen among its nine newcomers to the team, including junior transfer in Du'Vaughn Maxwell.
As a result, Hampton coach Ed Joyner, Jr. said the Pirates will likely struggle at times, but believes their maturity will develop come March.
"I don't want to lose, don't like to lose, don't like the way we lost," Joyner said, "but I'm starting three freshman. They're going to take some bumps and bruises until they get it and we're in this for the long haul."
Shaver said he was most pleased that in 22 made baskets for the Tribe, they had 20 assists, with Matt Rum, who shot just 1-for-7, all from beyond the arc, leading the way with seven.
"When we've been good, we thrived on sharing the ball, and we really shared the ball tonight," Shaver said.
Junior center David Bruce and freshman guard Ke'Ron Brown led Hampton with 10 points each, and Maxwell added eight points and nine rebounds in the Pirates' loss.
"I ain't here to make no excuses," Joyner said. "But we have to do things, and play, (stronger)."
The Tribe started slow, as freshman guard Deron Powers opened the game with a 3-pointer for the Pirates, who scored seven of the first nine points of the game before the Tribe got untracked.
Through Britt and Thornton, along with Rusthoven, the Tribe led by nine points at halftime and extended that to as much as 25 points in the second half. Hampton rallied to cut the lead to 12 points, but another Thornton 3-pointer ended the Pirates' rally and the Tribe cruised from there.
Shaver, who saw an injury-depleted Tribe finish 6-26 a year ago, is pleased to have a mostly healthy contingent among his 11 returning players. Junior guard Julian Boatner, who just began practicing this week, and senior walk-on Brett Goodloe, are the exceptions.
Last season, Shaver said more players were beside him on crutches than playing.
"You go through a season like we did last year, and you've got to doubt yourself a little bit," Shaver said. "You build confidence a lot of ways. You go 30-0, you can be confident, but you can build confidence by preparing and giving great effort to be successful. And we prepared to succeed."
NOTES: Hampton was picked to finish fifth out of 13 teams in the MEAC this season while the Tribe is forecast to finish ninth in the 11-team CAA. ... This was the 16th meeting in the last 18 years between the two teams. ... William & Mary opened the season at Kaplan Arena for the first time since 2005, when it defeated Maine 89-55 as part of the W&M Tipoff Classic.