You wouldn’t have known Hofstra and Old Dominion were in the tail end of dismal seasons if you watched them play on Sunday night.

An exciting first half saw both teams shoot above 40% from the field. Moussa Kone sprinted 94 feet back and forth, and finished transition buckets with ease. Dimitri Batten came off the bench to spark an 11-0 ODU run.

ODU went into halftime with a 31-30 lead, and it was remarkable that Hofstra was that close. The Monarchs’ first 10 points came via offensive rebounds, which amounted to a 13-point advantage in second-chance opportunities in the first half.

But the defense, Hofstra’ bread and butter, forced ODU into 12 turnovers, which helped nullify the fact that the Monarchs’ number of offensive rebounds (11) exceeded the Pride’s number of total rebounds (nine).

So when the Pride took command in the second half of the 70-59 victory, it wasn’t all that surprising.

David Imes had a magnificent second half, hitting 6-of-8 from the floor and a perfect 3-of-3 from three-point land en route to a team-high 18 points.

Daquan Brown, who flashed potential with a 13-point game at Delaware in early January, pulled down 11 rebounds in the second half alone. It was a great turnaround from a first half  where Brown had three fouls and two turnovers. Hofstra’s frontcourt, with Brown, Kone and a healthy Stephen Nwaukoni, could be sneaky good next year.

It wouldn’t be Hofstra basketball without a well-rounded night from Stevie Mejia. The senior point guard, who notched his first  career double-double a few weeks ago, recorded another on Sunday night. This time, he did it with passing and scoring, netting 10 points while assisting on 10 buckets.

By the end of the game, Hofstra’s defense had forced 19 ODU turnovers.

Mo Cassara won’t win CAA Coach of the Year. Pat Skerry’s got that on lock. But given the circumstances, Cassara has done a truly remarkable job with this team.

He’s been hard at work on the recruiting trail, and he’s bringing in guards on guards on guards in 2013. It’s important to note that a lot of these guards have prep years under their belts, so they should be able to step in and play immediately.

This list of Hofstra’s 2013 commits is a bit hard to follow, but it’s the most comprehensive one I could find.

***

Before we dive into the recap of Towson’s thrilling victory over George Mason, let us take a moment to make one (unofficial) proclamation, and a few factually incredible statements.

First, we should probably congratulate Pat Skerry, Jerrelle Benimon and RJ Hunter on their future CAA awards.With every passing game, it becomes more and more apparent that those individuals deserve proper acknowledgements for their phenomenal accomplishments this year.

Now for the facts: Towson will host Hofstra on Saturday with a chance to complete the largest single-season turnaround in NCAA history. The Tigers were 1-31 last year, and are currently 17-13.

Also of note, it will be the Tigers’ final home game at the Towson Center before they start playing in a new state-of-the-art arena next season.

One more: you have the opportunity to vote for the Lou Henson Player of the Year award, and we hope you vote Benimon.

And now, your regularly scheduled recap.

George Mason, with some late game heroics from two freshmen, made things incredibly interesting on Tuesday night.

In the end, spectacular play from Towson’s Jerrelle Benimon and Marcus Damas was too much to overcome.

Entering the final minute of regulation, Towson led George Mason by seven, but the Patriots made one last push to win the game. Mason’s Patrick Holloway was scoreless at the time, but there’s a reason he was on the court.

Dude can flat out drill a 3-pointer.

With just 50 seconds on the clock, Holloway drained a trey to bring Mason within four. Immediately following the shot, Holloway stole the inbounds pass, which led to George Mason free throws.

After a few free throws from each team, sprinkled with another Holloway three, George Mason was down by just three with a chance to tie the game.

Then, with just 1.2 seconds on the clock, Mason’s Anali Okoloji drilled a three to tie the game and send it into overtime.

But in overtime, the Patriots failed to capitalize on their momentum.

The 85-81 victory was Towson’s first win at George Mason since 1977. It was also the Tigers’ first win over the Patriots since becoming a member of the CAA in 2001. The Patriots had defeated the Tigers on 20 consecutive occasions.

Overshadowed by the excitement of 3-pointers and overtime was the fact that Towson was in position to win this road matchup because Benimon straight out of his dreams.

Benimon shot 8-of-9 from the field, including 3-of-3 from behind the arc, on his way to posting 22 points along with six rebounds.

I did mention that all happened in the first half, right? It was with his strong performance that allowed Towson to go to the locker room holding a 46-36 lead.

But Benimon wasn’t the only player who had a productive first half.

On the other side of the court was Jon Arledge, who posted 11 points on 5-of-8 shooting. Arledge’s strong first half was (understandably) overshadowed by Benimon’s spectacular play. Still, Arledge continues to show he’s one the CAA’s most skilled big men.

The Patriots slowly clawed back from the 10-point halftime-deficit. They managed to tie the game at 53, but Towson immediately went on an 8-0 run to regain the lead. Ultimately, it was George Mason’s timely shooting in the final minute that closed the gap and resulted in overtime.

At the end of it all, Jerrelle Benimon had a new career-high of 31 points, and he also grabbed seven rebounds. Not to be outdone, Marcus Damas set a new season-high with 23 points, and also pulled down nine rebounds.

Bilal Dixon, who scored the go-ahead field goal in overtime, grabbed 10 rebounds to help Towson win the rebounding margin 44-39.

On the other side George Mason was led by Erik Copes, who posted a double-double with 13 points and a career-high 15 rebounds. After scoring in double figures in just one his first 18 games this season, Copes has hit the mark in six of Mason’s last seven games. Copes and Arledge are becoming a real force in the Association.

Three other Patriots scored in double figures, as Arledge (17), Bryon Allen (14) and Corey Edwards (10) contributed their fair share.

After having a tough game against William & Mary (six points, 3-of-12 shooting) Sherrod Wright was looking to bounce back in tonight’s game. However, the two-time CAA Player of the Week failed to score in double figures for the second consecutive game, as he shot 4-of-9 from the field and posted just nine points.

Looking forward, both teams will play their final regular-season games on Saturday.

George Mason will travel to Delaware. The Patriots can clinch the three-seed with a win.

As mentioned before, the Tigers will host Hofstra in their final game at the Towson Center, and will attempt to complete the largest single-season turnaround in NCAA men’s basketball history.

***

As stupid as it may be, I picked each of the home teams to win tonight.

For the Georgia State Panthers, it’s a lot more than just Senior Night.

As a spectator it’s difficult to see such a talented team exit the league, but if you think your team is going to contend next year, you couldn’t be happier to see #Hunterville exiting the CAA. We’ll certainly assess Georgia State’s situation in the next few weeks.

(I will try to write a preview for Drexel-Old Dominion tomorrow. The week before Spring Break is always crazy hectic, hence there was no preview for last night’s game.)

William & Mary (12-15, 6-10) at UNCW (10-18, 5-11) – 7:00

These previews will be a little shorter than normal, and there’s two reasons for that.

The first reason is that I have a midterm tomorrow. The second is that there’s no way I’m picking against Keith Rendleman on Senior Night.

So just read what Mr. Mull has to say (always, always read what he has to say). We also get a nice perspective on Rendleman from Star-News Sports Editor Dan Spears.

Dubs 68, Pugs 64

Northeastern (18-10, 13-3) at Georgia State (15-15, 10-7) – 7:00

This is without a doubt Georgia State’s final basketball game as a member of the CAA. It’s also very likely to be the Panthers’ final game of the season, though there’s hope that they could get a postseason invite to the CBI/CIT.

Even though they’re just .500 overall, the Panthers are the only CAA team that’s beaten Northeastern with a fully healthy Joel Smith.

I finally got to see the Panthers (in person) this past Saturday. Admittedly, I was hyped to see RJ Hunter. While his 11 points weren’t anything special, he did it quite effortlessly. They came in quick succession, and it all seemed too easy for RJ. He is so quick coming off screens, and his pull-up jumper is lethal.

There’s no way I can pick against the Panthers in their last CAA game, let alone on Senior Night. Expect James Vincent to have another impactful game. Northeastern’s had a week to rest so hopefully, with a healthy Joel Smith, this can be a real shootout.

Panthers 75, Huskies 73

Delaware (16-13, 11-5) at Hofstra (7-22, 4-12) – 7:00 

If Delaware wins tonight, it will assure that these two teams will meet again in the first round of the CAA Tournament, which is next Saturday. Can you believe it?

It’s also Hofstra’s Senior Night, so it’s the last chance to see Stevie Mejia, David Imes and Matt Grogan at the Mack.

Defiantly Dutch returns from a near month-long hiatus with a post profiling Hofstra’s seniors.

It’ll be interesting to see Hofstra’s less-experienced big men, Daquan Brown and Darren Payen, playing against Delaware’s veteran frontcourt stalwarts Jamelle Hagins, Josh Brinkley and Carl Baptiste.

Because I love Mejia, he gets the Rendleman/Vincent treatment. Hofstra pulls off the upset on Senior Night.

Flyin’ Dutchmen 67, Fightin’ Blue Hens 66

3 Responses to “Pride, Tigers and Senior Night”

  1. Dave in VA Says:

    Drexel having secured the 5 seed tonight, this W&M alumnus now will root even harder for the Green and Gold on the 2nd. If they beat JMU on Saturday night they won’t have to face them again in the opening round of the tournament. (I’m never a fan of playing the same team twice in a row, even with a week between the games.)

  2. caahoops staff Says:

    Luckily you can root for both teams in Green and Gold – just need a William & Mary or a GMU win to keep that from happening. However, W&M is 2-1 against Matt Brady in the CAA Tournament, and you know the Tribe always brings it in Richmond.

  3. Rendleman finale deserves fond farewell | North-Carolina News Says:

    [...] Pride, Tigers and Senior Night [...]

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