Sunday, January 30, 2011

Jenkins Sets Scoring Record, But Hofstra Falls to Drexel

Saturday was a college basketball doubleheader day, the first of two doubleheader Saturdays in a row for me. After staying for one half of St. Bonaventure vs. Fordham at Rose Hill Gym (more in my next post), Tieff drove us to the Mack Center for the Drexel vs. Hofstra game.   It was very strange getting to the parking lot 90 minutes before game time, but we wanted to make sure we were here early for this game.   This was the game where Charles Jenkins would likely set the all time Hofstra men's basketball record for most points scored and a sellout was expected.

So after listening to the end of the St Bonaventure - Fordham on WFUV radio, we walked from the parking lot to the Mack Center and entered the arena an hour before game time.  Both of us were starved, but I had the ultimate equalizer.  Saturday's game was also Staff Appreciation Day.  Anyone that worked for Hofstra got four free tickets and a voucher for free food.   Since I have season tickets, I gave my tickets to a colleague while I used the voucher for two hot dogs, a couple of pretzels, some chips and soda.

Once we grabbed our food, we headed to our normal entrance.  But it was jam packed with students waiting to get Charles Jenkins T-shirts.  So we went to the opposite end entrance to the arena where I ran into a Public Safety officer I know named Will.  His son went to day care with my son and we had been at birthday parties for the kids.  After briefly saying hi, we got to our seats.

As we basically devoured our food over several minutes, the arena started filling up.   By game time, the entire Lions Den student section was filled and then some. It was by far the largest student section I had seen in at least four years.  And it made sense, the game was announced as a sellout. There were 5,000 people who decided to "Pack the Mack".

There was more to the game than just Jenkins setting the scoring record.  It was also the 2011 Hofstra Hall of Fame Class Induction Day which included one Craig "Speedy" Claxton, former NBA star, perhaps Hofstra's greatest all time player.  So you had Jenkins' scoring record, the induction of Claxton, and 5000 fans, including one large, raucous student section.  Throw in two of the better teams in the CAA, mix well and you had one great atmosphere in Hempstead.

The game had a wacky start to it.  After the starting lineups were announced, the game clock started running down for about 30 seconds before someone finally reset it to 20:00.  Just another example of things that happen when Drexel and Hofstra get together.

Hofstra had won the first game earlier this month against Drexel at the DAC.  And the Pride came out as if they were going to win the second game as well.  Using the full house as inspiration, Hofstra went out to a 9-4 lead five minutes into the game.

But Drexel would come back and went on a 12-2 over the next four minutes as they used guard play from Chris Fouch, Gerald Colds and Derrick Thomas to score ten of their twelve points.   The Dragons were up 16-11 with eleven minutes left in the first half.

Enter the man of the hour, Charles Jenkins.  He would score the next four points on all free throws due to drives to the basket.  He was now only ten points away from setting the scoring record that had been set by Antoine Agudio.  Jenkins and Agudio were teammates during Agudio's senior season when Jenkins was a freshman (Jenkins was also redshirted during Agudio's junior year).  The score was 16-15 Drexel with ten minutes left.

But a problem that has reared its ugly head lately for Hofstra, lack of rebounding, would manifest itself again against Drexel, the eleventh best rebounding team in the country.  Over the next eight minutes, the Dragons would dominate both the offensive and defensive boards.  As a result, Drexel was up 34-22 with two minutes left.

The Pride would then rally behind the play of Jenkins and Mike Moore.  Jenkins would assist on all three of Mike Moore's baskets - two 3 pointers and a two pointer.  Hofstra was down at the half 35-30.  Moore would have 16 points at the half, while Jenkins had 10 points.

There were two problems though for Hofstra in the first half.  First, Drexel was thoroughly dominating the boards.  The Dragons outrebounded the Pride 26-11 in the first half, which included a 10-2 advantage on offensive rebounds.  Hofstra's two offensive rebounds came from their guards; Moore and Shemiye McLendon.  Second, the Drexel bench was outscoring Hofstra's 21-0.  Still, it was amazing the Pride were only down five at the half.

The second half saw the pace slow down as the teams each only had two baskets in the first five minutes.  Still the Dragons dominated the glass and extended their lead to eight, 47-39 with 12:06 left.  The crowd was getting restless and desperately wanted a run by the home team.

The home fans finally got their run and got to see history in the process.  Charles Jenkins scored the last two points of a 6-0 spurt by the Pride with two free throws with 10:15 left in the game to make the score 47-45 Drexel.  With those two points, Jenkins now had the all time points scored record in Hofstra Men's Basketball history.  Mo Cassara took Jenkins out of the game after the second free throw to a monsterous standing ovation by the capacity crowd.

Hofstra had a chance to tie or take the lead while Jenkins sat on the bench, but Moore took an ill advised three point attempt and missed.  Drexel extended the lead after that.  The Dragons were up nine, 59-50 on a Dartaye Ruffin layup with 5:06 left.  The Pride had no answer the entire game for the 6 foot 8 240 pound freshman forward.

But again, with the home crowd spurring them on, Hofstra made one last run.  Jenkins made three free throws and assisted on a Brad Kelleher three pointer.  Then after David Imes hit a layup to cut the lead to one, 61-60 with 1:17 left, Chris Fouch turned the ball over for the Dragons.   Hofstra had the ball with  53 seconds left and the Mack Center was rocking.

So you had the moment the Lions Den faithful had been waiting for the entire second half.  The Pride had a chance to take the lead and the ball was in the hands of Jenkins.  Jenkins drove down the left hand side of the lane as two Drexel defenders tried to stay with him.   As he went up to seemingly put up a layup, he actually tried to dump a pass to Imes underneath the basket.   Drexel got possession of the ball with 39 seconds left.

Since they were under the foul limit, Hofstra had to then commit three fouls, which took twelve seconds off the clock.  Chris Fouch would hit two free throws to put Drexel up three, 63-60 with 27 seconds left. Hofstra still had a chance to tie and they worked the ball over to Moore who was open in the corner.  But Moore couldn't get set for his shot and his attempt barely grazed the front of the rim.  Again, Drexel got the rebound and Ruffin hit two more free throws.   The game ended with a Kelleher miss and the Dragons ran out the clock, winning the game 65-60.

For Drexel, it was all about there bench play.  Fouch had 18 points to lead the Dragons, but it was Ruffin who was the dominant force on the night.  He had a double double with 15 points and 14 rebounds.  He also showed a deft touch at the line as he was 5 of 6 from the charity stripe.  Samme Givens almost added a second double double for Drexel with 9 points and 10 rebounds.

For Hofstra, Moore (20) and Jenkins (19) combined for 39 points. Jenkins also had eight assists and five rebounds.   The problem for Hofstra though was again, not enough balance.  Only Moore and Jenkins scored in double figures.  Imes did have nine points but Greg Washington, who had averaged 13 points per game in his last three games went scoreless.  The Hofstra bench scored 7 points on the night, as opposed to 35 for Drexel's bench.

But the story of the game, besides Jenkins' scoring record, was again the domination by Drexel on the boards.   The Dragons outrebounded the Pride 47-24, including 20-5 on the offensive glass.  That lead to six more field goal attempts and more importantly it often lead to Drexel hitting the foul line.  The Dragons were 17 of 22 from the line as opposed to Hofstra's 12 of 14.   Those five more free throws were the exact difference in the score of the game.

And no Hofstra - Drexel game would be complete without a Bruiser Flint incident.  After one call in the first half, Bruiser was just about to lose it and was going up and down the court like a madman.  But instead of one of his coaches calming him down, a referee came over and put his arms around him.  In what could have been a technical foul moment, the referees seemingly showed our man Bruiser some compassion.

With the win, Drexel went back over .500 in the CAA at 6-5, tied for sixth with Delaware.  Had they lost, the Dragons would have been basically done for a top four slot.   With the loss, Hofstra is now 8-3 in the Colonial.  Six days after being tied for first place in the CAA, two straight losses have put Hofstra in fourth (they are tied for third with ODU, but the Monarchs have the tiebreaker).   Just another example of how crazy the CAA can be for teams.

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