Click here for "Part II of Three Games in 24 Hours - An Empty City For a Half."
So when my sleepy four year old son and I got home from Hicksville train station, the first thing I did was watch the end of the ESPN360 replay of the Northeastern-George Mason. While driving home, I had been clued into the end of the game from a text from my friend Mal that said the following;
"Holy sh**! TIE-GAME--Mason fouls on last second half court shot attempt by NE. NE make free throws for the win!"I had to see this myself, so I went on and watched the latter part of the second half of the game. And sure enough here's how it worked out. Mason was up 48-45 when Matt Janning hit a three to tie the game at 48 with 25 seconds left. The Patriots then called timeout. Off the timeout, Mason worked the ball to Luke Hancock (?) and he missed the driving layup. Mike Morrison appeared to be fouled when he tried the follow dunk, but no call. Then the Huskies Chaisson Allen grabbed the rebound and tried a 40 foot shot off one leg at the buzzer, which missed.
But sure enough, there was the foul call on George Mason's Ryan Pearson..by the ref at the far end of the Huskies basket. I had to say something about this on my Twitter account, which is gmoore21566 for you fans of the College Hardwood. I tweeted "I'm sorry but ref has to eat whistle there on 'the foul' on Pearson after prior no call."
And that's exactly right. The announcers for the game Jon Sciambi and LaPhonso Ellis said the same thing. The game should have been allowed to go into overtime. For the second time this weekend, we have inconsistent (perhaps incompetent) officiating affecting/deciding the outcome of a game, instead of letting players decide the outcome on the floor. No wonder Jim Larranaga after the game was over was "talking" to the officials and was the last on the handshake line.
And not only did this decide the game, this decided the third seed of the CAA Tournament. Combined with the Mason loss, and their win over UNCW, William and Mary became the third seed of the tournament. Mason became the fourth seed and gets the worse potential quarterfinal draw with fifth seed VCU, basically the home team for the Tournament.
It was off to the Mack Center to see the Hofstra- Georgia State game with nearly 4,000 of my closest friends. So as some of those fans that I know and I discussed the Mason - Northeastern game at our seats, the Hofstra Senior Day festivities occurred on the court prior to the game. Seniors Cornelius Vines and Miklos Szabo were honored for their two years of playing at Hofstra (both were JUCO transfers). Vines in particular was very emotional accepting his award with his mom and grandmother in attendance. And Vines would play a very important part in this game today along with a crazed but funny fan in the Hofstra student section in the second half.
The first fourteen and half minutes were very competitive. Vines hit two threes to put Hofstra out to a 6-2 lead but Georgia State would come back. The Panthers twice had leads of five points including 19-14 on a layup by Xavier Hansboro with eleven and a half minutes left. The Pride would come back with two threes by Vines and then take a 23-22 lead on a Charles Jenkins three with 8:14 left.
It was a lead the Pride would never relinquish. GSU's James Vincent hit a layup to cut the lead to 26-25 with 5:57 left. But Hofstra would respond with a 17-4 run over a four minute span to go up 43-29 with 1:54 left. Halil Kanacevic and Charles Jenkins combined for twelve points during that span. However, Georgia State would score the last seven points in the half, five by Joe Dukes to cut the lead to 43-36.
Dukes kept the Panthers in the game with 13 points in the first half. Meanwhile, Jenkins (14), Vines (15) and Kanacevic (10) combined for 39 of the Pride's 43 points. Vines was 5 of 10 from beyond the arc. The Pride also had a strange statistic in the first half - 1o assists and 10 turnovers.
The second half started out with Georgia State rallying, cutting the lead twice to two, the second of which was 49-47 on a layup by Dukes with about 16 minutes left. Hofstra would start stretching out the lead but another Dukes layup made the score 53-49. It would turn out to be the Panthers last stand.
Then a rabid member of the Lions Den, the Hofstra Student Section, standing in the first row behind the basket decided to take matters into his own hands and the rest of the Lions Den joined in. During every Georgia State free throw attempt, the student would strip down to his speedo underwear and do a very suggestive striptease dance while the student section loudly chanted "LOOK AT HIM!"
To paraphrase my tweet from yesterday while it was happening, it was insane and it was working. The guy should be hired by Chippendales. With his Panthers down 55-49, Dukes missed his two free throw attempts. Then Trey Hampton would miss two of his four free throw attempts. Then Dukes again missed both his free throw attempts. And Ousman Krubally missed his one and one free throw attempt. Meanwhile Hofstra went on a 11-2 spurt and the game was over right there.
The damage done by the student I called the "Look at Him Fan" - the Panthers were 2 of 9 from the line while Hofstra scored eleven points. I tweeted Jerry Beach and asked "Can we bring the 'Look at Him Fan' to Richmond?" Kudos to a very creative, albeit absolutely nuts fan and even more props to a terrific Lions Den for joining in with that creative loud chant. That's what I think a student section should be, loud and creative. As I overheard a couple of fans discussing it afterwards, the Look at Him Fan was like a train wreck you couldn't turn away from. And apparently the Georgia State players couldn't either. Hilarious!
From there, the Pride took control. The lead grew to eighteen, 82-64 on a layup by Kanacevic with 3:09 left. Now I want you to look at the picture on the left. As Tieff pointed out to me, all five Hofstra players on the court late in the game had seven rebounds. How often do you see that? Sevens Are Wild!
Back to the game, Vines left to a standing ovation and he in kind returned the love by pointing to each part of the stands. His replacement, walk-on Matt Grogan got into the scoresheet by drilling a long three to make the score 86-71. The final score was 87-74 Pride on Senior Day.
Jenkins had another terrific game with 29 points on 6 of 10 shooting from beyond the arc. Vines had 18 points on his five first half three pointers. Kanacevic added 16 points and Chaz Williams had 10 assists. Hofstra was 12 of 27 from beyond the arc and 21 of 28 from the line. Dukes led the Panthers with 22 points and Hansboro added 11 points.
With the win, Hofstra (18-13, 10-8 CAA) completed an unreal turnaround in the CAA. The Pride were 2-7 at the halfway point and went 8-1 in the second half of the season. Including their Bracketbuster win over Rider, Hofstra won nine of their last ten games and knocked Northeastern out of first place in the CAA the last week of the season. This might be Coach Tom Pecora's best job ever.
The reward for the Pride. Well after all the machinations involving Towson, UNCW and James Madison played out, Hofstra gets to play...Georgia State again in the first round of the CAA Tournament. And if Hofstra defeats Georgia State, they get to play..Northeastern again in the quarterfinal round of the tournament. Win both those games and Hofstra is in the semifinals with 20 wins on the season. Only in the wild and wacky CAA can you get that to happen. Now if Hofstra can only get the Look at Him Fan down to Richmond.