Often in college basketball, it's not how you start, it's how you finish. Such was the case Saturday at the Mack Arena in Hempstead as VCU overcame a 12 point first half deficit and edged Hofstra 66-62 in the CAA game of the week. It may have been Speedy Claxton day as Hofstra retired the two time America East Conference Player of the Year's jersey. But in truth, it was Eric Maynor Day, as the reigning CAA player of the year had a monster day.
It truly was a tale of two halves as the Pride marched out to an early 17-8 lead, then expanded that lead to 28-16 with 5:25 left. The Pride held the Rams to 8 of 24 shooting in the first half, including 1 of 6 from beyond the three point arc. Maynor, himself was held to 2 of 8 shooting. Hofstra only shot 38 percent in the first half but were 13 of 16 from the free throw line. VCU stayed in the game by shooting 12 of 15 from the line in the half. The last three from the line were courtesy of Maynor, who was fouled by Hofstra guard Cornelius Vines on a three point attempt with two seconds left in the half. Those points would turn out to be very big in the second half as the Pride went to the locker room with only a seven point lead 36-29 instead of a ten point lead.
As it is with many great players, Maynor stepped up his game in the second half. After Hofstra went back out to a 42-33 lead on a Charles Jenkins three, Maynor and company went to work. VCU would go on a 15-4 run, eleven of which were scored by Maynor and the Rams had their first lead, 48-46, since the 16:56 mark of the first half. Hofstra would come back and be ahead 58-55 on a Tony Dennison layup with 4:31 left. But Maynor had one last charge in him as the Rams would finish the game on a 11-4 run, six of which came from Maynor and the other five from Bradford Burgess.
Maynor shot 7 of 10 in the second half, hitting both of his three point attempts and also went 5 of 6 from the line. 21 of his 33 points were in the second half. Amazing. He also wore out Hofstra's star guard Charles Jenkins who defended him the entire game. Jenkins only shot 2 of 10 from the field in the second half (but 6 of 8 from the line). As a team, VCU shot 50 percent in the second half, 14 of 28 including 4 of 6 from three. The Pride kept themselves in the game by going 10 of 12 from the line. But again the season of cold shooting continued for Hofstra as they shot 7 of 28 from the field in the second half and 31.6 percent overall.
The Pride did a good job of getting Larry Sanders in foul trouble and he only managed 6 points. They also shut down Joey Rodriguez who had only 5 points only 5 FG attempts. Bradford Burgess though chipped in with 11. Jenkins had 21 points for Hofstra but on 5 of 23 shooting. Nathaniel Lester added 12 and Tony Dennison chipped in 9 points. The Pride again failed to work the ball inside to their frontcourt as they only had eight FG attempts (making four of them).
VCU now has sole possession of second place in the CAA at 9-2 after George Mason lost a heartbreaker at ODU. The Pride now are tied with ODU and James Madison for fifth place at 6-5, two games back of Drexel. The Dragons are now tied for third with George Mason at 8-3 after downing Towson. However, Mason has the tiebreaker on Drexel having won at the DAC 56-55 earlier in the season.
By the way, if Eric Maynor didn't prove to everyone that he is one of the best guards in the country after that performance, I don't know what will. Look for Maynor on a NBA team later this year. He's that good.