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Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Tribe Men’s Hoops Falls Short in Bid for NCAA Tournament with Loss to Hofstra in CAA Semifinals

Greg Malinowski scored 22 points for the Tribe. (Ty Hodges/WYDaily)
Greg Malinowski scored 22 points for the Tribe. (Ty Hodges/WYDaily)

BALTIMORE — Three hundred sixty-three days ago, William & Mary’s Daniel Dixon sank a last-second 3-pointer to lead the Tribe to a Colonial Athletic Association semifinal victory against Hofstra.

That loss, and specifically Dixon’s shot, stayed with Hofstra Coach Joe Mihalich for the past year. On Sunday, the Pride had their revenge against Dixon and the Tribe, beating William & Mary 70-67 during this year’s CAA Tournament semifinals.

“We thought about this game for 363 days,” Mihalich said after Sunday’s win. “We were glad to have a chance to make up for it.”

For William & Mary, the loss to Hofstra ends this year’s painstaking effort to earn a berth in the NCAA Tournament, which William & Mary has never qualified for in school history.

“It’s a heartbreaking loss,” William & Mary Coach Tony Shaver said. “We played a great team today. They’ve proved for four months they’re the best team in the league. They find a way to make the plays they have to have down the stretch.”

But the shots weren’t always falling for Hofstra, especially in the first half. Hofstra, which averages a field goal percentage of 44 on the season, shot just 38 percent in the first half.

After exchanging points through the first two minutes, Hofstra went on an 8-2 run to take a 12-6 lead over the Tribe with 15 minutes left to play in the first half.

Greg Malinowski scored five of William & Mary’s next 10 points to help the Tribe pull within one point of the Pride. With 5:49 left in the first half, a jumper by David John tied the game at 20 apiece. A pair of 3-pointers from Malinowski helped give the Tribe a 28-27 lead with just over two minutes left in the half.

A jumper by Connor Burchfield with 19 seconds left gave William & Mary a 34-30 lead over top-seeded Hofstra heading into halftime.

Spirits were high heading into halftime for William & Mary, which held a four-point lead despite committing 11 turnovers in the first half. William & Mary entered Sunday’s game averaging 10 turnovers per game. On the other end of the court, the Pride committed 10 turnovers in the first half.

“The pace was theirs,” Mihalich said. “We weren’t good offensively today and that’s a credit to William & Mary. We should have lost this game, but we didn’t.”

Leading the way for Hofstra in the second half was Juan’ya Green, who scored 10 of his 14 points in the second half, and seven points during the final 5:46 of the game. Ameen Tanksley also came up big for the Pride in the second half, scoring 14 of his game-high 23 points over the final 20 minutes of play.

A layup by Tansley with 4:27 left to play gave Hofstra its largest lead of the second half, putting the Pride up 65-59 and forcing William & Mary to call a timeout.

Out of the timeout, Dixon and Malinowski splashed 3-pointers on back-to-back possessions to tie the game at 65-65. A layup by David Cohn put William & Mary on top by two points and capping its 8-0 run.

With 1:49 left, Green drove the lane and was fouled by Sean Sheldon. Green went to the line and calmly sank both free throws, tying the game at 67-67.

On William & Mary’s ensuing possession, Omar Prewitt, who scored 25 points for the Tribe during Saturday’s win against James Madison University, rimmed out on a 3-point attempt. Prewitt also missed a jumper on William & Mary’s next possession, encapsulating his disappointing five-point performance Sunday.

With eight seconds left, Hofstra fed the ball to Denton Koon inside the paint, who turned and connected on a layup that put Hofstra up 69-67. David Cohn rushed down the court and pulled up for a 3-pointer from the top of the key, but his shot hit the side of the rim and was rebounded by Hofstra.

Tanksley was fouled immediately and sent to the free throw line with 1.8 seconds left. Tanksley made his first attempt, but missed his second free throw. Sheldon came down with the rebound and the Tribe were awarded a timeout with one second left.

William & Mary’s last-second play proved fruitless as the Tribe watched the ball sail out of bounds on the inbound attempt, running out the clock without getting a shot off.

“I’m really proud of the guys,” Shaver said after the loss. “It’s hard to look at the big picture in this moment, but I’m very proud of the consistent excellence we’ve shown. Three years with 20 wins is not a small thing for a mid-major program.”

With a spot in the NCAA Tournament out of the picture, William & Mary (20-11) will now wait to see if it is selected for the National Invitation Tournament.

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