It’s fair to say that at the beginning of the season, if you had tried to pick every game this weekend, there’s a good chance you’d have been wrong about each.
George Mason and UNCW were on the opposite ends of Homecoming results.
James Madison and Towson both secured their 10th CAA wins of the year, ensuring above .500 conference records for both.
And William & Mary completed a sweep of 757 foe Old Dominion for the first time in 15 years.
I realize that there were two Monday night games, but I’m going to save that for another post (tonight, or tomorrow with the Wednesday’s night previews). The Tribe’s recent accomplishments could be taken lightly if mixed in with all this information below.
We’ve said it many times, and this three-game winning streak proves it: you know better than to doubt a Shaver-coached team in Richmond.
With a share of second-place on the line, no one could have predicted a crazier finish than what took place in the Bob Carpenter Center in Sunday night’s game between James Madison and Delaware.
With one last possession and 1.0 seconds left on the clock the Dukes went to the playbook and executed an inbounds play that has worked time and time again: the inbounds alley-oop dunk. This time, instead of AJ Davis finishing, Moore-to-Nation was the pass-and-slam combo that gave the the Dukes the 72-71 win to stun the Blue Hens inside their home building.
I’m not sure how often the CAA Rookie of the Week is awarded to a player who scored just two points in his second game of the week (Andre Nation). Talk about making your only bucket count. Here’s Matt Brady’s explanation of the play, via Mark Selig (also has video highlights).
Delaware opened each half with a big run and a double-digit lead. Yet the Dukes’ aggressive defense kept them in the game, forcing 14 turnovers and converting them into 16 transition points in key moments of the game. That allowed the Dukes to fight their way back with a 14-4 run of their own to pull within one at 58-57.
Ron Curry hit a three to give JMU a 70-66 with 4:02 left. Curry was great for JMU on Sunday night, as the freshman made three big 3s. He’s not afraid to take a big shot.
Less than a minute later, Devon Saddler got fouled on his drive, and AJ Davis swatted the ball after the pinnacle of its flight, which resulted in a goal tending call. Saddler hit the free throw to bring the Blue Hens within one.
After that, decision-making was shaky on both sides. Neither team really valued the basketball. After Devon Moore’s driving layup was no good, Devon Saddler sprinted down the court and got the transition layup to give Delaware the 71-70 lead with 23.6 seconds left.
JMU missed its next shot, and Jamelle Hagins missed the one-and-one opportunity with 8.7 seconds left. JMU took the ball over midcourt and called timeout. Inbounding underneath their own basket, the Dukes got the ball to Rayshawn Goins, who had the ball stripped by Jamelle Hagins.
Then the inbounds lob to Nation gave JMU the 72-71 victory.
It’s a shame Saddler and Kyle Anderson got switched up on the inbounds pass, because both of them were solid on offense. Saddler scored a game-high 23 points and had eight rebounds (33rd straight game in double figures) and Anderson scored 16 points.
Rayshawn Goins finished with 19 points and 10 rebounds. Devon Moore had 19 points and six assists. AJ Davis hit four 3s off the bench, and finished with 16 points.
Delaware shot a higher percentage from the field than JMU (41.8% to 35.9%) and made five more free throws. But the Dukes made up for those discrepancies with 10 3-pointers (47.6%).
Delaware and James Madison still have the same amount of conference losses, but JMU now owns the tiebreaker. More importantly for JMU, the Dukes found a way to win on the road, where they were previously 2-8.
Once again, UNCW held serve at home, but this time it was on a bigger stage. The Seahawks beat the league-leading Northeastern Huskies 73-67 on Saturday night’s homecoming.
In a year where an underdog winning hardly qualifies as a surprise, we have yet another addition to the ever-growing file that proves no game should ever be taken for granted.
Joel Smith returned to the court, but his ankle injury limited him to just 16 minutes. Northeastern could have really benefited from his presence on the floor.
“To say we missed [Smith] is an understatement,” said Bill Coen after the game. “He has a tremendous calming effect on the guys around him.”
The Huskies could have used some calming as the game wound down. Trailing by three with two minutes left, the Huskies next three possessions ended with two turnovers and a blocked shot, effectively putting the game out of reach.
A huge factor down the stretch was the Dubmen’s ability to make free throws. After making just 1-of-5 free throws in the first half, UNCW made 15-of-19 in the second half, and collected offensive rebounds on half of their missed free throws.
The Huskies struggled to hit open threes throughout the game. 42% of their shots were from behind the arc, I’d say two-thirds of them were very good looks, and a lot of those were wide open. With that many shots coming from deep, making just 27% is rarely going to end in a W.
The key moment in the game came when UNCW turned the ball over with 40 seconds to go, resulting in Northeastern getting the ball directly under the basket. Northeastern missed two point-blank shots, before UNCW corralled the rebound and Keith Rendleman was fouled while making a layup in transition. That five-point swing proved to be crucial: instead of trailing by four with 35 seconds left, Northeastern was trailing by 9.
Keith Rendleman finished of a stellar week, in which he was Co-CAA Player of the Week, with 23 points and 11 rebounds (five offensive). Rendleman also made 8-of-10 free throws. Chris Dixon scored nine points and dished out nine assists, while turning the ball over just twice. That last bit is crucial against Bill Coen’s squad.
Quincy Ford had a phenomenally efficient game for Northeastern. The swingman scored 23 points on 9-of-11 shooting, and grabbed nine boards.
UNCW is now 9-3 at Trask Coliseum this season.
I was wrong about George Mason and Georgia State as the matchup of the day. It started off well enough, but at a certain point you were only watching for signs of encouragement.
Georgia State shot 62.1% in the first half to take a 15-point halftime lead. The Panthers made 10 3-pointers on the game, and held a +12-point advantage in second-chance points en route to a 78-60 win over George Mason.
The Patriots led 19-13 after Sherrod Wright hit his fourth 3-pointer of the first half less than eight minutes into the game. Everything unraveled after Wright made his fourth three. Georgia State used a 7-0 run to the take the lead.
A few minutes later, the Panthers scored 16 unanswered points to turn a two-point deficit into a 14-point lead.
The run was initiated when Wright was on the bench. Erik Copes and Jon Arledge were limited by two first-half fouls, which prevented George Mason from establishing a halfcourt offense.
The Patriots have a big size and depth advantage in the frontcourt, but they could not exploit it, without those two on the bench and Johnny Williams still absent. At one point in the second half, the Panthers’ number of offensive rebounds matched the Patriots’ number of defensive rebounds (10 for each).
After his initial scoring spurt, Wright attempted just six shots for the rest of the game. While it’s been nice to see other Patriots ease the burden off Wright, this is still his team, and he needs to take about 15 shots each game. There’s a reason Pat Skerry said he was biggest mismatch in the CAA.
Georgia State shot 7-of-11 from three in the first half, and held a 51-36 halftime lead. Hofstra and Towson, who played at the same time as Georgia State and George Mason, totaled 40 points between them in the first half.
The Panthers pushed their lead as high as 27 points, when Manny Atkins hit a three with 10:02 to play. George Mason was never closer than 16 in the second half.
Georgia State fans have plenty of reasons to be excited about the basketball program. All of the scoring was done by underclassmen. RJ Hunter ended his mini-slump in a big way, scoring 25 points on 10-of-19 shooting. Devonta White dropped 23 points and shot a perfect 3-of-3 from long range, while dishing out six assists.
Manny Atkins notched a double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds. Rashaad Richardson helped build the insurmountable lead with three first-half 3-pointers. He finished with nine points and eight rebounds. The Panthers outrebounded the Patriots 34-27.
Marko Gujanicic was the only other Patriot in double figures (10 points). Paris Bennett contributed eight off the bench.
“It’s on the road, we take it.”
Towson’s 57-50 win over Hofstra was another one of those rock fight wins. Towson overcame 20 turnovers to assure the school’s first-ever winning record as a member of the CAA.
Towson held nine-point leads several times in the first half, but Hofstra stretched an 18-3 run across two halves to take a 29-23 lead early in the second half.
At that point, Towson used a 17-3 run to retake the lead. The Pride never closed within a basket, and only cut Towson’s lead to five with under 10 seconds remaining. Jerrelle Benimon scored a game-high 17 points, and hauled in eight caroms.
As talented as Jerome Hairston may be, he’s struggled against the press all season long. Towson made the run with Kris Walden manning the point. Walden finished with five assists and two steals. After starting all 32 of Towson’s games last year, he’s started just two (and played fewer minutes this year).
Towson has plenty of scorers so if Walden can come in dish the rock like he did Saturday, Coach Skerry can surely find a few extra minutes for him.
Additionally, Timajh Parker-Rivera gave the Tigers a spark off the bench. Parker-Rivera saw extended minutes because Bilal Dixon got in early foul trouble, and the freshman forward chipped in five points and eight boards off the bench. Just a glimpse of the future for this talented frosh.
Stevie Mejia scored a team-high 13 points for Hofstra, and also had seven steals. For the second consecutive Saturday, Hofstra had a guy snag seven steals (how many D1 teams can say that?).
Moussa Kone was the Pride’s only other player in double figures (11 points) which was certainly nice to see against a physical Towson frontcourt.
This season obviously hasn’t turned out how Old Dominion hoped. The Blaine Taylor Show has been cancelled and the Monarchs have managed just three wins.
Regardless of ODU’s record, it was important for the College of William and Mary – one of the Monarchs’ favorite punching bags over the years – to finish off the series with a win. The Tribe hasn’t exactly been a world-beater this season, but its appeared to be finding its way as of late.
Quite frankly, William and Mary hasn’t really been competitive enough against ODU in recent years to make them real rivals, in the Monarchs’ eyes, at least.
But the two teams are certainly rivals in William and Mary’s eyes. ODU has always been the team to beat. ODU has always epitomized superior size and athleticism, and in the years of Gerald Lee and Frank Hassell, the Monarchs physically manhandled the Tribe, including a young and clean-shaven #Beasthoven.
With this context in mind, the Tribe closed out its CAA series against ODU with a solid 74-62 win over the Monarchs in Norfolk. It was the first Tribe win in Norfolk since January 5, 2008, and first season sweep of ODU since 1998.
It was the Tribe’s first road win since December 8th at Radford, and its first conference road win of the season. The College moves to 11-14 on the season, 5-9 in the conference, while ODU falls to 3-23, 1-13 in the CAA.
Marcus Thornton stole the show Saturday, dropping a career-high 32 points on the Monarch defense. Thornton’s 32 points came off seven 3-pointers – he didn’t make any twos, just all threes, because that’s how he rolls – and 11-of-12 from the charity stripe. Thornton’s favorite spot on Saturday was from the top of the key where he nailed a handful of his threes.
Thornton’s play from last week earned him co-CAA Player of the Week.
ODU interim coach Jim Corrigan said that he thought the Monarchs did a decent job on Thornton, but that they didn’t play tight enough on him sometimes, and gave Thornton just enough space to make them pay. He was downright dominant Saturday, and really proved that he is the key to the team.
The Tribe went man-to-man (it usually plays a lot of zone) and doubled DeShawn Painter under the basket. Painter still got 16 points, and ODU as a whole still scored 43 points in the paint.
#Beasthoven and the College’s big men didn’t have much luck scoring against ODU in the paint (where the Monarchs typically outmuscle the Tribe), but that’s where Thornton and Brandon Britt had the Tribe trading three’s for two’s.
During crucial stretches in the second half, ODU was hanging around, but Thornton and Britt continuously countered with threes. In many ways, they looked like a classic Shaver team: losing the battle under the basket, but making the opponent pay with deadly accurate shooting.
An important caveat to the earlier statement that ODU outmuscled the Tribe: William and Mary outrebounded ODU. At the Ted. In basketball. Shaver said that he felt that one stat would indicate how well the Tribe played: rebounds.
The Tribe outrebounded the Monarchs 33-29. The Tribe tallied 12 offensive rebounds, with many of them coming in the second half. The Tribe would shoot, miss a three, and then get a fresh shot clock. Those second chances proved crucial.
The Monarchs were an inexcusable 0-of-7 from the free-throw line, and had 15 turnovers. ODU also had a lot of offensive fouls — a few might have been bad calls, sure — but ODU had the look of a sloppy team. If the Monarchs could have cut down on a few of the mistakes, they might have had a chance at the end.
Aaron Bacote and Richard Ross can play. Bacote led the ‘Narchs with 20 points, and four threes, but I really loved the way Ross played. He was a force inside, and looked good on defense.
With the win, Shaver became the winningest head coach in Tribe history. Shaver’s 114th career wins is now tops in program history, as he passed Bill Chambers, who has 113.