For the second time in two days, William & Mary overcame a brutal start and pushed the conference’s defending champion to the final minutes. Also for the second time in two days, the Tribe couldn’t quite complete the job.
Trailing by a point with less than five minutes remaining, W&M was unable to prevent an 82-73 loss to Hofstra Sunday afternoon on Long Island. The Tribe (2-5, 0-2 CAA) overcame a 10-0 hole and took a brief lead late in the first half, but the Pride had too many options on the offensive end.
In a way, it was a replay of Saturday’s game, in which the Tribe trailed by 10 points seven minutes in but fought back in a 61-56 loss.
“I think that’s pretty accurate,” W&M coach Dane Fischer said. “We started off really slow and got into a hole, but we were determined to climb out of it the rest of the way. It just never felt like we could do that.
“Overall, it was a really good effort. We stayed in two games when we didn’t play well offensively. That’s a good sign … but not a good sign that we didn’t play well offensively.”
The Tribe shot 39 percent from the field, the fourth consecutive game it went sub-40. It made 6-of-26 from the 3-point arc, the fourth consecutive game it hit less than 27 percent. But W&M still finished with its highest point total since a 75-58 win at Hampton on Dec. 16.
How did the Tribe do it? By hitting the boards, which hasn’t been its strength this season. For the game, W&M finished minus-1. But the Tribe had 11 offensive rebounds and outscored the Pride 16-4 on second-chance points.
“The offensive rebounding was a good sign for us today,” Fischer said.
Luke Loewe had another strong all-round day with 24 points (8-of-16 from the field), six assists, three steals, and no turnovers in 37 minutes. Quinn Blair added a career-high 17 along with six rebounds. Freshman Connor Kochera had 16 points and seven boards.
The Tribe had to fight back virtually the whole way. Six minutes into the game, Hofstra led 10-0. On its 10 trips down the floor, W&M was 0-for-7 with five turnovers.
Loewe finally broke the drought, and over the next six minutes, the Tribe outscored Hofstra 21-8. Blair’s 3-point play off a rebound gave W&M a 21-18 lead with 7:18 remaining in the first half.
With 2:41 remaining, a layup by Kochera tied the game at 28. But the Pride closed with an 8-1 run and led 36-29 at the break.
W&M never regained the lead, but it came close. After a 7-0 run, the Tribe cut Hofstra’s advantage to 60-59 with 5:05 remaining. W&M had two chances to take the lead but couldn’t. After the Pride took a 62-59 lead, Kochera had a good look from the arc but missed.
Hofstra ended up with a 7-0 run, and the Tribe never got closer than five points.
Not that he’s into moral victories, but Fischer believes his team, which was projected last in the preseason, can build on giving the No. 1 pick two close games on the road.
“One of the things we’ve been trying to instill in this program is to be a team that’s going to play really hard every time we take the floor,” Fischer said. “We want to be a team that’s going to defend. And I think we did those things this weekend.”
NEXT UP: The Tribe is scheduled to host Delaware on Saturday and Sunday with both games starting at 2 p.m. The Blue Hens (3-4, 1-1) split home games against Charleston over the weekend.