Saturday, November 13, 2010

Hofstra Women Lose at Home to Virginia

They unfurled the WNIT banner before the start of last night's Virginia vs Hofstra women's basketball game.  It was not only a celebration of the Pride's past season but an encouraging sign of things to come, as evidenced by an enthusiastic crowd at the Mack Center.  The Pride had an excellent chance for a women's RLU against a Cavalier squad that had made the NCAA Tournament the past three seasons.  The Pride are returning most of their team from last season plus a couple of talented freshmen.

And the Pride held their ground for most of the game against the Cavaliers.  While UVA preferred to work it inside (the Cavaliers would eventually outscore the Pride in the paint 44-26), Hofstra worked their magic from beyond the arc.   Freshman Kate Loper would bury four three pointers as the Pride had six total in the first twenty minutes.   The teams would trade the lead several times in the first half

But as the first half went on, there were warning signs for Hofstra.  Both of Hofstra's starting forwards, Shante Evans and Marie Malone quickly picked up two fouls and only played a combined 15 minutes in the first half.  And the Cavaliers dominated the boards in the first half  34-17.

This resulted in a lot of second and third chance opportunities.  But the Cavaliers weren't cashing in, as they only shot 35 percent from the field in the first half.  Even worse, the Cavaliers only hit 8 of 17 free throws in the first half.   A combination of tough Pride defense and the Cavaliers own ineptitude kept it close as the Cavaliers were up 32-30 at halftime.   The Pride had to do a better job working the ball inside as they only had three free throw attempts (and missed all three) in the first half.

The second half started out with Hofstra point guard Candice Bellocchio burying another three to put the Pride up one, 33-32.   Between Bellochio and forward Marie Malone, who had a quick two baskets, the Pride were able to keep it close, only down one at 41-40 with sixteen minutes left.  But by that time, Malone picked up two quick fouls and headed to the bench.   Still a three point play by Bellocchio put the Pride up two 45-43 with 13:48.

But again, the Cavaliers were wearing down the Pride inside.  A layup by UVA's Lexie Gerson with eleven and a half minutes remaining gave the Cavs a 49-47 lead that they would not relinquish again.  It would become a part of a 26-7 run over the span of nearly seven and a half minutes.  UVA would go up 73-54 with four minutes left (and in fact Tieff called that a couple of minutes prior that the lead would be 19 at most - swear to God).  During that time the rebounding margin got wider and wider.  

At the end of the game, which Virginia won 82-66,  the Cavaliers outrebounded the Pride 65-34.    Evans, Hofstra's best player, only scored seven points while the freshman Loper led the Pride with 17 points.   Virginia, which shot 51 percent from the field in the second half,  had four players in double figures led by Whitny Edwards with 16 while Gerson had 14.    The Pride continue their season by hosting Saint Peter's on Monday night.

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