Molly: Daddy won't let me go to school today.
Maybe the fourth time will be the charm? The Flying Dutchmen advanced to the CAA championship game for the second straight season, the third time in five years and the fourth time overall last night, when they withstood a furious second half surge by Delaware to earn a 75-61 victory. And maybe the second time against Northeastern will be the charm tonight, when the Dutchmen face the defending champion Huskies in a rematch of last year’s title tilt. You remember how that one went. Let’s hope for a different result tonight, shall we? Been up writing all day and night so this’ll be a quick look back at the win over the Blue Hens and a look ahead to Barone Bowl For The Marbles 2: Electric Boogaloo.
THE MOST RECENT GAME SUMMARIZED IN ONE PARAGRAPH
Eli Pemberton (a game-high 24 points) had another big game for the Dutchmen, who led by 12 points at the half and by as many as 22 in the second half before withstanding a frantic last-minute dash by Delaware and its swarming defense. Pemberton scored 14 points in the first half on 4-of-6 shooting from 3-point land in the first half, when the Dutchmen shot a sizzling 9-of-15 from beyond the arc. Tareq Coburn (13 points, 12 rebounds) posted a double-double despite battling early foul trouble for the second straight game. Jalen Ray drained all four of his 3-point attempts and finished with 19 points. Desure Buie had 10 points, four assists and three rebounds while Isaac Kante had seven points and 11 rebounds. The Dutchmen played suffocating outside defense for a second straight game as they limited the Blue Hens to a 5-of-23 performance from 3-point land.
3 STARS OF THE GAME (vs. Delaware 3/9)
3: Eli Pemberton
2: Tareq Coburn
1: Jalen Ray
Desure Buie 60
Eli Pemberton 49
Isaac Kante 35
Tareq Coburn 31
Jalen Ray 18
Stafford Trueheart 3
Omar Silverio 2
COACHSPEAK: “I say it all the time: This league is such a great basketball league. And tonight was exactly what I’m talking about. Just two teams battling it out. Nobody quitting. Tough, tough win. Hard-earned win. And we beat a very good team, so we’re proud of it. We’re ecstatic to be one of the two teams left. But man, and we’re proud that we earned it. Nobody gave us a path to the finals, that’s for sure.”
THIS IS THE 25TH ANNIVERSARY OF FRIENDS’ FIRST SEASON, WHAT WOULD THIS GAME BE TITLED IF IT WAS AN EPISODE OF FRIENDS?
The One Where We Got Back To The Title Game
WAS THIS A UNICORN SCORE?
No! The Dutchmen most recently earned a 75-61 win on Feb. 23, 1995, when they beat Fordham by that very score. That has to be a good sign, right? The Dutchmen have 13 unicorn score victories this season, three more than last year. Is that good luck? The term unicorn score was coined by Mets superfan, historian and blogger Greg Prince to describe a score by which the Mets had never previously won.
THE FLYING DUTCHMEN AFTER THIRTY-THREE GAMES
With the win over Delaware, the Dutchmen improved to 25-8. This ties the 2019-20 team for the third-best record through 33 games among the eight teams that played at least 33 games. The 2015-16 team was also 25-8 through 33 games. All the seasons that have lasted at least 33 games have been played since 2005-06. We’re at the point where it’s just easier to show you the teams that did play at least 32 games so here you go!
2018-19: 27-6 (beat Delaware in CAA semifinals)
2015-16: 24-9 (lost to UNC Wilmington in CAA championship game)
2014-15: 20-13 (lost to Willam & Mary in CAA semifinals)
2013-14: 10-23 (season ended with loss to Delaware in CAA quarterfinals)
2010-11: 21-12 (season ended with loss to Evansville in the CBI, bleeech)
2009-10: 19-14 (lost to Northeastern in CAA semifinals)
2005-06: 26-7 (season ended with loss to Old Dominion in NIT quarterfinals)
THE DEFENSE ISN’T RESTING
The Dutchmen played a second straight strong game on defense last night, when Delaware shot 42 percent from the field but just 21.7 percent from 3-point land while scoring 61 points, its fewest since Jan. 3. The Dutchmen have allowed 75 points or fewer 15 times in their last 17 games. They are 22-3 when allowing 75 points or fewer this season and a whopping 105-25 when allowing 75 points or fewer under Joe Mihalich.
SO WHO HAS A DOUBLE-DIGIT SCORING STREAK NOW?
Justin Wright-Foreman, as you may or may not recall, ended his Hofstra career by scoring in double figures in each of his last 88 games. With Desure Buie’s streak ending last Saturday, the longest such streak now belongs to Eli Pemberton, who has 13 straight double-digit efforts.
WILL THE THIRD TIME ALSO BE THE CHARM?
The Dutchmen, who swept Northeastern in the regular season but won the two games by a combined total of just six points, are 12-3 all-time when facing in a conference tournament an opponent they swept in the regular season. Here is the list of Hofstra’s re-rematches in conference tournament play against an opponent it swept in the regular season.
2020: Beat Drexel
2019: Beat Delaware
2017: Lost to Delaware
2016: Beat Drexel
2016: Beat William & Mary
2014: Beat UNC Wilmington
2011: Beat William & Mary
2009: Beat UNC Wilmington
2001: Beat Vermont (America East)
2001: Beat Maine (America East)
2000: Beat Boston U. (America East)
2000: Beat Drexel (America East)
1992: Beat UMBC (East Coast Conference)
In addition, the team that swept the regular season series is 54-21 in a CAA Tournament re-rematch since 2002, though those teams are just 2-2 this season. Elon beat James Madison and the Dutchmen beat Drexel while Charleston lost to Delaware and William & Mary fell to Elon.
OVER THE AIR
Tonight’s game will be aired live on CBS Sports Network. That’s channel 214 if you have Cablevision or Optimum or Altice or whatever the hell our local overlords are called now. Hofstra will also provide audio here while the CAA will provide live stats here.
HOW MANY STRAIGHT TIMES HAS THE NUMBER ONE SEED MADE THE FINALS?
Hofstra’s win last night ensured the no. 1 seed would reach the CAA championship game for the ninth straight season. The top seed is 3-5 in the previous eight title games. GULP.
The nine straight appearances by the no. 1 seed is the longest streak in league history.Overall, the no. 1 seed has reached the title game 32 times in 38 seasons. The no. 1 seed is 20-11 in the championship game.
THE DUTCHMEN PULL THE EDGARDO ALFONZO
The Dutchmen have now reached a conference championship game all six times they have entered as the no. 1 seed. The Dutchmen fell to UMBC in the ECC title game in 1992, beat Delaware in the America East title game in 2000 and 2001 lost to UNC Wilmington in the 2016 CAA title game and fell to Northeastern last year.
(Google Edgardo Alfonzo 6-for-6, kids)
THIS ONE GOES TO ELEVEN
The Dutchmen will be playing in their 11th conference championship game as a Division I school. They are 5-5 thus far, with wins in the 1976, 1977 and 1994 ECC title games as well as wins in the 2000 and 2001 America East title games.
HUNTING THE HUSKIES
The Dutchmen will face Northeastern in a conference tournament for the fourth time and will be seeking their first win. In addition to last year’s 82-74 win in the CAA title game, the Huskies earned a 71-61 victory in a North Atlantic Conference outbracket game in 1996 (it was the last Hofstra basketball game I covered as a collegian) and outlasted the Dutchmen, 74-71, in double overtime in a CAA quarterfinal in 2010. Damn are we ever due.
A TITLE GAME REMATCH
Tonight marks just the third time the same two teams have played for the CAA title in consecutive seasons. The team that lost the first game is 2-0 in the rematch *fingers crossed* with Navy beating Richmond in 1985 and Old Dominion vanquishing James Madison in 1995.
A SECOND CHANCE
The Dutchmen are the 12th team to make it back to the CAA title game after losing in the championship the previous year. The team that lost in year one is 9-2 the second (or third) time around. James Madison lost in the title game in 1992 and 1993 before winning it all in 1994.
The Huskies, under 14th-year head coach Bill Coen, advanced to the CAA championship game for the third straight season with a wire-to-wire 68-60 win over Elon in the second semifinal Monday night. Northeastern is 17-15 and earned the sixth seed by going 9-9 in the regular season, when it lost eight league games by five points or fewer. The Huskies are the lowest seed to reach the championship game since sixth-seeded William & Mary did so in 2008.
The Dutchmen and Huskies had one common foe in non-league play. Hofstra beat Holy Cross, 91-69, on Dec. 1 while Northeastern handed the Crusaders a 101-44 drubbing on Nov. 19.
In CAA play, both teams swept James Madison and Drexel and split with Towson. Hofstra swept Elon and UNC Wilmington, both of whom split with Northeastern. The Dutchmen split with William & Mary, Delaware and Charleston, all of whom swept the Huskies.
The Dutchmen, who were picked first in the CAA preseason poll, are ranked 109th at KenPom.com. The Huskies, who were picked third, are ranked 140th at KenPom.com.
According to KenPom.com, the Dutchmen rank first in the CAA in league-only offensive efficiency (114.5) and third in defensive efficiency (103.5). The Huskies are tied for sixth in the CAA in league-only offensive efficiency (106.2) and first in defensive efficiency (99.1).
Senior guard Jordan Roland leads the Huskies — and the CAA — with 22.2 points per game. Another senior guard, Bolden Brace, is pulling down a team-high 6.6 rebounds per game while adding 10.5 points per game. Freshman Tyson Walker leads Northeastern with 3.4 assists per game and ranks second with 10.6 points per game. Junior forward Tomas Murphy has missed the last 28 games with an injury.
KenPom.com predicts a 72-70 win for the Dutchmen. That doesn’t sound stressful at all. Per the wise guys in Vegas, for entertainment purposes only, the Dutchmen are 1-point favorites as of this morning. The Dutchmen are 22-9-1 against the spread this season.
ALL-TIME VS. NORTHEASTERN
Hofstra is 25-23 against Northeastern in a series that began during the 1949-50 season. All but three of the meetings have come in conference play since the 1994-95 season, when Hofstra joined the North Atlantic Conference. The Dutchmen earned their first regular season sweep since 2016-17 in eventful fashion this season, when Eli Pemberton hit a layup just before the buzzer to lift Hofstra to a 74-72 win in Boston on Jan. 9 before Hofstra came back from a 16-point first half deficit to earn a 75-71 victory on Feb. 8. Of course, the Huskies have won the most important game between the two teams over the five years — the CAA title game last Mar. 12, when Northeastern pulled away in the second half for an 82-74 victory.
THE BARONE BOWL
The Barone Bowl was established by me and Northeastern graduate Mike Brodsky during the 2009-10 season, after Northeastern and Hofstra dropped football within two weeks of one another (Hofstra’s decision, of course, was reached after a multi-year study, wink wink nudge nudge). Did you know? Hofstra hosted Northeastern this season in our first Winter Homecoming!
The Barone Bowl pays homage to the episode of Everybody Loves Raymond in which a Hofstra kicker boots a 68-yard field goal against Northeastern but Frank Barone catches the ball and refuses to give it up. Apparently that wasn’t the type of publicity either school liked. Anyway.
Northeastern leads the Barone Bowl series, 13-11, and won possession of the trophy for the first time since the 2014-15 season last spring. Grumble grumble. A regular season sweep normally wrests the trophy back, but whomever wins tonight will get it. This, unfortunately, is a purely symbolic trophy, one which you will not find displayed by either school. But you can find me and Brodsky talking about it on Twitter!
THINGS YOU CAN SHOUT ON TWITTER IF CALLS GO DO NOT GO HOFSTRA’S WAY
Matt Janning bias! (Dude beat us in the CAA quarterfinals 10 years ago)
Vasa Pusica bias! (Dude beat us in the CAA title game last year)
You guys have won multiple CAA titles and Beanpot hockey tournaments, let us have this we need it so damn badly! (duh)
Please let me play my favorite Extreme song tonight bias! (Hopefully you’ll get to see/hear it for yourself)