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Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Tribe Comeback Falls Short in CAA Women’s Basketball Tournament Loss to Hofstra

(Rafael Suanes/CAA)

WASHINGTON — If there was a safe bet for Thursday’s CAA second-round game between William & Mary and Hofstra, it was that it would come down to the fourth quarter. That’s how things unfolded in both regular-season games, and each time the Tribe got the win.

But on the neutral setting of the Entertainment & Sports Arena in Washington, D.C., the Pride scored the last five points and advanced to Friday’s quarterfinal round with a 57-53 win. The fifth-seeded Tribe trailed by as many as 16 points and led for only 31 seconds but still had its chances to pull it out.

“It’s difficult to beat a team three times,” W&M coach Erin Dickerson Davis said. “When you win the first two, I do think that there are times when you get lax because you know you’ve beaten them. So I think that kind of sparked (Hofstra).

“I feel like we were a little panicked at times. I feel like we were trying to get our wind whereas Hofstra already had some momentum from playing on day one. They just came out with a great effort.”

After scoring 50 points in the second half of a 71-55 win over Hampton in Wednesday’s first round, the Pride (10-20) came out hot again on Thursday. Hofstra, the No. 13 seed, made its first six shots and led 14-4 less than 4½ minutes into the game. Less than 4½ minutes into the second quarter, it was 28-12.

The Tribe (15-14) rallied behind Nylah Young, who scored six of her 22 points in the final 3:19 of the second quarter, and went into halftime down 33-25. At the 4-minute mark of the third quarter, W&M tied it at 37 on a jumper by Anahi-Lee Cauley.

There were two more ties — at 46 with 6:02 left in the fourth quarter and at 50 with 3:47 remaining. Finally, Cassidy Geddes (14 points) gave the Tribe its first lead on a 3-pointer that made it 53-52 with 3:05 left.

Hofstra regained the lead on Alarice Gooden’s jumper at 2:34. The Tribe missed its final seven shots.

The Tribe had a chance to tie on its next-to-last possession, but the play didn’t go as designed. With Geddes the focus of Hofstra’s defense, it was left for Young to attempt a game-tying 3-pointer with nine seconds remaining.

Zyheima Swint, Hofstra’s 6-foot-3 center, challenged and deflected the shot, which fell harmlessly to the floor. It appeared on the replay that Swint’s right hand made contact with Young’s shooting wrist. But no foul was called.

“Honestly, I think we just rushed,” Davis said. “I don’t think we waited for screens. I don’t think we set good screens. They forced us out of it, and it ended the way it did.”

Young, a graduate transfer who played her first four years at Hampton, was outstanding in the final game of her career. She posted her fifth double-double of the season.

“This has been a long five years — a very long five years,” said Young, a first-team All-CAA pick. “I’m very grateful I got to come here for my last year because it’s been very special. This team has been very special.

“I’m grateful to be in this position. And I’m ready to go on to the next level, the next chapter of my life.”

The Tribe won 12 conference games for the second consecutive season, which had never before happened in program history. Of the team’s 11 top scorers, only Young is not returning next season.

Thursday’s loss stings, but Davis sees the overall season as rewarding.

“We did better than a lot of people thought after losing Sydney (Wagner), Riley (Casey) and Bre (Bellamy),” Davis said. “We’re very young — Cassidy is a freshman and she played 38 minutes; Alexa (Mikeska) is a sophomore and she played 33 minutes.

“We played a lot of youth and they haven’t really been in this position before. But I do think being in this position and feeling what we felt today and coming up short, this will spark us as we move forward.”

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