Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Jenkins is Mr. Buzzer Beater as Hofstra Defeats William and Mary in Overtime

February 15, 2011 was my 45th birthday.   It just so happens that on my birthday Hofstra was hosting William and Mary at the Mack Center.  That's because the CAA was on a Tuesday night schedule with BracketBusters starting on Friday.   So what better way to celebrate my birthday than with live CAA college basketball.

When I got home from work, I exchanged my three year old son Jonathan with my five year old son, Matthew, who was going to the game with me.   But first, we had to pick up Tieff from the Mineola Train Station at 6:27.   But of course, the LIRR wouldn't be the LIRR without the train being 20 minutes late.  During this time though, Matthew got a nap in.  Somehow, we got there right at tipoff.

The concern I had coming into the game was that the Pride might come out flat after a big road win at Delaware.   Hofstra was now up two games on Drexel for a first round bye spot in the CAA Tournament with three games to play and you had to wonder if they would be focused at the start of their home game.

Well, the Pride came out pretty focused.   In the first five minutes, Hofstra bolted out to a 15-3 lead as Mike Moore buried three three pointers while Charles Jenkins chipped in with six points.   It looked like the Pride were going to run the Tribe out of the building.

But despite their 3-12 record, William and Mary has a couple of wins over Drexel and James Madison, two teams over. 500 in the standings.  They also played Hofstra very close at Williamsburg earlier in the season and had just lost only by two points at Drexel on Saturday.   And thanks in large part to Quinn McDowell, the Tribe were going to answer the Pride's run and then some.

Over the next 17 and a half minutes, which included 90 seconds into the second half, William and Mary outscored Hofstra 36-11.   Yes, that's correct, 36-11.  It was a combination of good offense and defense by the Tribe, and the Pride settling for two many threes.  Hofstra started out the game shooting five of seven from the field (with five assists).   They would only hit on three of their next sixteen shots.  Meanwhile, Quinn McDowell had 11 points and Julian Boatner 8 points during the Tribe run.  The score was 39-26 William and Mary with 18:27 left.

But as they did so many times this season, like against James Madison and Northeastern, Hofstra would  rally in the second half.   And "The Man", "The Wolf", "The Force of Nature", Jenkins would be at the center of the rally.   Over the next five plus minutes, the Pride would outscore the Tribe 21-4.   Jenkins would score eleven of those points, including a three pointer that put Hofstra up 44-41.   After a Brad Kelleher three, the score was 47-43 Pride with 12:44 left.

The Lions' Den and the rest of the 2,378 were really into the game now.   And there was one other member of the 2,378 in attendance who was very much into the game.  My five year old son Matthew. I always kept asking him to go to basketball games this season, but he didn't want to go.  He was reticent to go to this game originally, but he did it because it was my birthday.  

Once there, he was having a great time.  He kept asking me who was winning, kept raising his foam finger after a Hofstra basket, and said the pretzel he had was "yummy".  Finally midway through the second half, he turned to me and said "Daddy, I want to go to another basketball game."  It was the best birthday present I could ask for yesterday.

The Tribe would not quit though.  Boatner and McDowell would bury threes and W&M outscored Hofstra 8-2 to go up 51-49 with 7:55 left.  But the Pride responded, outscoring the Tribe 12-4 over the next three and a half minutes to go up 61-55 as Moore scored seven of those points during that stretch.

However, during the second half, the best free throw shooting team in the CAA was unusually missing shots from the charity line.  Hofstra, who shoots 76 percent from the line on the season, would miss five out of fourteen free throws in the second half.   Moore and Jenkins, two of the top seven free throw shooters in the CAA each missed a free throw within the last two minutes of regulation.

And William and Mary would capitalize on those misses.  Trailing 65-60 with 1:59 left,  Julian Boatner and Brandon Britt would combine for all nine Tribe points over the next 1:50 as W&M scored six of the points from the line.  The home crowd was stunned as William and Mary was up 69-66 with nine seconds left.

Hofstra Coach Mo Cassara called timeout with six seconds left.  Tieff and I wondered who was going to shoot the game tying three point attempt.  But there never should have been any doubt.  The best player in the CAA was going to get the ball.

Jenkins received the ball and took a shot from the top of the key over the outstretched hand of a W&M player.  The Hofstra faithful went nuts as the teams went to overtime tied at 69.  And seemingly for the the upteenth time this season, the home crowd was set for another exciting finish by their Pride.  Little did they or I know how exciting it would be.

The overtime started out with Hofstra jumping out to a 74-69 lead with 2:57 left.  But again William and Mary would rally around their best player, McDowell.  McDowell would score seven of the Tribe's nine points during the overtime period.  McDowell would bury a three to put the Tribe up 76-75 with 1:08 left.

But Jenkins would hit a jumper to put Hofstra back up one 77-76 with 32 seconds left.   Hofstra had a chance to extened the lead to three, but Brad Kelleher missed one of two free throws and Hofstra was only up 78-76 with 13 seconds left.  It was the third missed free throw by Hofstra in the overtime period.   It would setup the exciting finish.

The Tribe called timeout to setup their play.  And Coach Tony Shaver called it for McDowell.  McDowell with Hofstra's best defensive player Yves Jules on him drove the lane and got the foul call on Jules.   With the Lions Den section trying their best to to distract him, McDowell calmly sank both free throws to tie the game at 78 with 4.5 seconds left.

But there were 4.5 seconds left. And once again, you knew who was getting the ball.  Jenkins.  And he received the inbounds pass and dribbled the ball up the court.  At about 35 feet out from the wing, otherwise known as Dominick Mejia range (know your old school CAA), Jenkins got a good look and launched his shot in front of two Tribe defenders.  As the buzzer sounded, the ball went right through the net.  Swish.  Jenkins raced down the court with his teammates and celebrated with the Lions Den Section as Hofstra won 81-78.  I can honestly say that might have been the most amazing thing I have ever seen on my birthday.

With that three pointer, Jenkins had 22 of his 28 points after the first half and probably cemented his legend in Hofstra basketball lore.  Moore added 25 points and 8 rebounds while David Imes added a double double with 12 points and 10 rebounds.  Brad Kelleher had nine points, seven assists, six rebounds and five steals for the Pride who are now 16-1 when three or more players score in double figures.  McDowell led W&M with a double double 28 points on 6 of 10 shooting from beyond the arc and had 12 rebounds.  Boatner added 16 points on 4 of 10 shooting from beyond the arc.  The Tribe was 12 of 25 from beyond the arc while Hofstra was 12 of 31.

With the win, Hofstra clinched a first round bye in the CAA Tournament since Drexel lost a little earlier at UNCW.  The Pride is also now in a second place tie with VCU and ODU after George Mason crushed the Rams on their home court 71-51 while Old Dominion easily handled Georgia State.  The Pride now travel to Ohio for their Bracketbuster game on Saturday vs. Wright State.

After the game, Tieff and I talked with Jerry Beach and his wife, while my son got to run and play on the court.   Before Matthew left the house last night, he wasn't sure if he wanted to go.   Three plus hours later, he was having so much fun, he didn't want to leave.

I think the Pride just got themselves another fan.

No comments:

Post a Comment