UNCW-CofC Halftime

UNCW used a balanced attack to build a 36-25 halftime lead. The Seahawks shot 43.8% from the field, including 3-of-5 from downtown. Freddie Jackson, Addison Spruill, Cedrick Williams, and Dylan Sherwood accounted for 32 of Wilmington’s points.

UNCW’s on-ball pressure led to eight CofC turnovers. UNCW turned those turnovers into eight points and a 10-2 advantage on the break.

Charleston struggled with UNCW’s from baseline-to-baseline game from the get go. When the Cougars managed to get the ball over halfcourt, they actually created a decent number of second chances at the rim. They failed to convert most, and shot just 33.3% on the half.

Joe Chealey led all scorers with 11 points. No other player from Charleston had more than three in the first half.

Hofstra 74, JMU 57

In Hofstra’s loss at JMU last Saturday, Ameen Tanksley and Juan’ya Green combined to shoot 8-of-22 from the field. Coming into this game, it was apparent that the pair of Niagara transfers would need to play better. The redshirt juniors did just that, and their supporting cast stepped up to ensure that the stars wouldn’t have to do too much.

Hofstra played with an energy from the opening tip. It was consistent ball pressure and Tanksley attacking with vigor. It was Moussa Kone and Rokas Gustys planting themselves by the hoop, and gathering any loose carom that came their way. It was Green dishing the rock and Malik Nichols and Brian Bernardi frustrating JMU guards Ron Curry and Joey McLean into multiple turnovers.

Put it all together, and Hofstra’s 74-57 win over JMU was utter domination.

Joe Mihalich said that the battlecry all week was to be a better defensive team. After allowing JMU to shoot 62.8% from the floor a week ago, the Pride limited the Dukes to 37% shooting today. The Pride dominated the paint (46-28) and held a 23-9 advantage for points off turnovers.

Kone posted 18 points and hauled in 11 rebounds. Tanksley finished with 16 points. Juan’ya Green had 10 points and eight assists, and Rokas Gustys scored 11 points.

Curry tallied 18 points for JMU. Dimitrije Cabarkapa scored 12 points in 18 minutes, but was relegated to the bench for most of the second half with what hockey writers refer to as a lower body injury.

It was night to forget for a trio of JMU starters. After scoring a career-high 20 points last week versus Hofstra, Jackson Kent scored just seven on 3-of-10 from the field. Joey McLean committed four turnovers, and didn’t play much in the second half. Yohanny Dalembert was hampered by foul trouble all afternoon.

Matt Brady knew his team didn’t play as well as it could have, but gave Hofstra all the credit in the world. Brady also mentioned that JMU would explore postseason options such as the CBI and CIT.

Hofstra knew it had to play defense. I reference this stat almost daily, but it’s important to note that Hofstra is 17-1 when holding opponents below 70 points.

It’ll be tough to hold William & Mary below that mark, but if the Pride commits to getting the ball inside and defends like it did today, tomorrow’s semifinal game is going to be hella good.

JMU-Hofstra Halftime

Hofstra came out playing with rabidity. The Pride ravaged the glass to the tune of a 58.3% offensive rebounding mark, and had versatile Malik Nichols shadowing Ron Curry’s every move.

It amounted to a 22-4 first-half run that gave Hofstra a 13-point lead with 3:20 to play. Hofstra led by double figures on multiple occasions and eventually took a 39-33 lead into halftime.

I have a feeling Matt Brady was happy to have his team within six points at halftime.

Amen Tanksley led the Pride with nine first-half points. Juan’ya Green posted six points and six assists, and Rokas Gustys and Moussa Kone combined for 13 points and nine rebounds.

Dimitrije Cabarkapa (12 points) was JMU’s lone bright spot, hitting back-to-back 3-pointers to spark an early 10-0 run. Yohanny Dalembert picked up his first foul hedging on a screen less than two minutes into the game, and his second trying to defend a drive. That spelled trouble for JMU, which was already getting hammered on the offensive boards.

Nichols’ defense on Curry, who shot 3-of-8 from the field, was crucial.

W&M 72, Elon 59

It felt like Elon was poised for a run when back-to-back 3-pointers from Tanner Samson got the Phoenix within five just three minutes into the second half. But the sharpshooter picked up his fourth foul with 16:55 to play, and was temporarily relegated to the bench.

That was when William & Mary used a 15-2 run to open up an 18-point lead. Elon strung consecutive baskets together on multiple occasions, but never got closer than 11.

Marcus Thornton and Omar Prewitt combined for 33 points, and Terry Tarpey put up eight points, nine boards, five assists, and three steals. That’s standard stuff for the CAA Defensive Player of the Year, who had several key offensive rebounds late in the game to seal the deal for the Tribe.

It was a rough afternoon for Elon seniors Austin Hamilton and Kevin Blake, who were a combined 6-of-21 from the field before Hamilton (13 points) converted a pair of layups late in the game. Elijah Bryant led the Phoenix with 15 points, and Samson finished with 11 points. Samson’s fourth foul truly thwarted the momentum that Elon desperately needed before a Tribe-heavy crowd in Baltimore.

Elon had its four-game winning streak snapped in its final game of the season. Matt Matheny’s group finished the ’14-’15 campaign at 15-18 overall, and should be better next season.

William & Mary will watch the JMU-Hofstra game with keen interest, as the Tribe will battle the winner on Sunday at 2:30 EST.

W&M-Elon Halftime

The noon game got off to a somewhat sloppy start, as William & Mary denied Elon’s entry passes time after time in the opening few minutes. William & Mary had some opportunities on the break, and frosh Connor Burchfield, he of 14 points and eight DNPs in conference play, connected on back-to-back 3-pointers to give William & Mary an early 10-point lead.

Out of the U12 media timeout, Elon made its run. Christian Hairston and Austin Hamilton sandwiched layups around an Elijah Bryant 3-pointer, and Elon pulled within three.

That was when Marcus Thornton, who’d only attempted one shot to that point, began to assert himself. Thornton drilled a 3-pointer to push William & Mary’s lead back to six. Thornton began attacking the lane, creating for himself and for teammates cutting towards the hoop.

On the final possession of the half, Thornton was lolligagging around halfcourt with the clock winding down. Chill as a cucumber, he rolled towards the right side of the court and drilled a stepback three to give William & Mary a 36-26 lead at halftime.

Elon 74, Towson 69 (OT)

The 2015 CAA Tournament is off to a phenomenal start.

The first half of the opening game saw Elon and Towson playing to their strengths. Elon hit 7-of-13 from downtown, and when the Phoenix is shooting accurately while playing at its typically swift pace, it can beat with anyone in the league. Meanwhile, the Tigers did their thing, dominating the glass to create a 15-0 advantage for second-chance points.

Towson took a 34-33 lead into halftime after A.J. Astroh’s buzzer-beater lay-in.

But Elon buckled down in the second half. The Phoenix stopped the onslaught of extra possessions. And after allowing Towson to push the game into overtime, Elon created some crucial second chances of its own.

You’d expect a veteran like Austin Hamilton to take the air out of the ball with his team up three and 28 seconds on the shot clock. But seniors play to win, and Hamilton’s deep 3-pointer with 2:21 to play gave Elon a 70-64 lead that proved to be insurmountable.

Hamilton proceeded to force a momentous steal with 20 seconds to go, and classmate Kevin Blake flushed home the fast-break dunk that wrapped up the victory. Elon eventually won 74-69 in its first-ever CAA Tournament game.

We’ve made it this far without mentioning CAA Rookie of the Year Elijah Bryant, who was just magnificent on Friday night. Bryant scored a game-high 21 points to lead five Elon players in double figures. Seniors Hamilton and Blake joined three-point ace Tanner Samson in double figures. We’ve come to expect standout performances from the guard quartet.

For Matt Matheny’s group, the most surprising performance came from freshman wing Collin Luther, who scored a career-high 11 points in 16 minutes of play. Luther came in averaging 1.7 points over 18 conference games. If you need proof that it’s officially March, allow Luther to serve as your calendar.

Towson All-Rookie pick Mike Morsell scored a team-best 18 points, and Four McGlynn (13 points) hit several crucial free throws to spur Towson along. It’s no consolation now, but Towson’s an exciting young team with a bright futureElon has experienced guards it can rely upon in the clutch moments of the game. Towson has McGlynn and little else in the way of D-I postseason experience.

Less than 16 hours after beating Towson, Elon will take the floor to battle William & Mary. Elon and William & Mary split the season series, with each team holding serve on its own court. Tribe Athletics has some notes on the upcoming dual, which will be broadcast on Comcast SportNet at noon EST.

in the way of player with postseason experience. Towson only loses two players from this season’s team, and should push to finish in the top half of the league next season.

One to Go

It took until the penultimate game of Colonial play, but our conference tournament is finally starting to take shape. Heading into the final day of the regular season, here’s what the current seeding looks like:

  1. William & Mary
  2. UNCW
  3. Northeastern
  4. James Madison
  5. Hofstra
  6. Delaware
  7. Drexel
  8. Elon
  9. Towson
  10. Charleston

This much is certain:

  • Hofstra will face off with one of James Madison/Northeastern in the 4-5 game at 2:30 during next Saturday’s quarterfinals versus either .
  • Elon and Towson will play in the 8-9 game on Friday night, with a chance to play William & Mary or UNCW the next day.
  • Charleston is the 10 seed, and will play either Delaware or Drexel on Friday night.

It’s Senior Day in Williamsburg, Baltimore, Elon, and Charleston. Elon certainly threw a wrench into Northeastern’s plans on Thursday, and if there’s going to be drama again today, it seems most likely to come from the Carolinas.

Enjoy the five games and eight hours between 2 pm and 10 pm. The wait til Friday will be a painstakingly slow one.