Monday, February 6, 2012

Georgia State 59, Hofstra 43 (Or: All they want is some remedy)

The second-best Georgia band to have a top-two album in 1992 ponders the fate of the 2011-12 Flying Dutchmen!

After 17 defeats, the Flying Dutchmen are running out of different verbiage to explain the same thing. So on Saturday, Mike Moore just stated the obvious.

“I look at these stats and nothing really stands out,” Moore said after the Dutchmen fell to Georgia State, 59-43, in a game that was both closer than it looked and exactly as lopsided as it looked, all at the same time. “We played them pretty even: Assists, steals, turnovers. They had 17 [turnovers], we only had 10. The only thing is the point category. We’re not scoring. And that’s the problem.

“I feel like we’re matched up just as well as they were, with everything top to bottom except the point category. And that’s what wins games at the end of the day.”

And at the end of Saturday the Dutchmen were 2-11 and still tied for 10th place in the CAA despite, as Moore noted, playing Georgia State to a tie in assists (14) and steals (seven). But while Moore and Nathaniel Lester combined for 27 points, only two fewer than Georgia State’s top-scoring combination of Devonta White and Ali Jihad, the Panthers had two more players in double figures while the only additional Dutchmen player to even get halfway to 10 points was Moussa Kone.

The Dutchmen had four fewer field goals (17) than Georgia State on 17 more shots (58). Furthermore, while Moore and Lester were 11-of-31 from the field, the rest of their teammates were 6-for-27 against Georgia State’s frantic and varied mix of defensive alignments. The Dutchmen were just 3-of-22 from 3-point land and 6-of-12 from the free throw line.

“Tough to win any game at home this time of year against a team in the top part of the league when we shoot 3-of-22 and 6-of-12,” Mo Cassara said. “It’s one of those days the ball didn’t go in the basket.”

Of course, the Dutchmen have had a lot of those days since CAA play began. While the Dutchmen are a middle-of-the-pack team scoring overall among CAA teams (seventh at 64.4 points per game), they have been ice cold for most of the conference season. The Dutchmen are ninth in scoring in CAA play (60.0 ppg), 11th in field goal percentage (39 percent) and last in 3-point field goal percentage (26 percent).

With Moore and Lester, the Dutchmen have as good a 1-2 combination as anyone in the league. Only two other teams (James Madison and UNC Wilmington) have two players in the top 10 in scoring overall and only James Madison has two players in the top 10 in scoring in CAA games.

But the Dutchmen have had just two players in double figures in seven of the last eight games and Moore and Lester have been those two six times. The only time in this stretch in which the Dutchmen had three players score at least 10 points was the win against James Madison.

The Dutchmen’s other three starters—David Imes, Stephen Nwaukoni and Dwan McMillan—were all 3-of-12 from the field, with one field goal apiece, for the second straight game. And in their last two games, the Dutchmen’s third-leading scorer is walk-on Matt Grogan (nine points).

Yet as frigid as the Dutchmen were Saturday, they were, as they have been in just about every CAA games this season, one basket away from making things very interesting. Georgia State raced out to a 19-point lead late in the first half—the second time in as many games a Ron Hunter-coached team has scorched the Dutchmen and led by 19 points in the first half, hello 2010 CBI—but the Dutchmen crawled back within seven midway through the second half.

Over the next three scoreless minutes, the Dutchmen missed three shots to pull within four or five. On the last miss, Stevie Mejia missed a fast break layup and Rashaad Richardson drained a 3-pointer at the other end to begin a game-ending 13-4 “run” by the Panthers, whose lead never again slipped into single digits.

“I thought we had a pretty positive comeback,” Cassara said. “I think we had a chance to cut the game to five with several minutes to go. We cut the game to five, set our defense, I think the whole thing changes. The pressure goes back to their bench.

“But, again, it’s kind of been the story of our season that way. It becomes a very fine line and one or two possessions really dictates what happens to us.”

Cassara could take solace in the resiliency the Dutchmen displayed during the comeback as well as the gritty efforts of both Lester and Moore, each of whom played with a passion befitting two seniors in the final month of their collegiate careers.

Despite taking a blow to the face in the first half, Lester willed his way to another double-double with 14 points and a game-high 10 rebounds. Moore overcame a slow start—he didn’t score his first basket until the final minute of the first half—to finish with 13 points, including 11 of the Dutchmen’s first 15 in the second half, and had three assists, including a nifty dish to Kone for a layup that pulled the Dutchmen within 10 points for the first time in the second half.

“Personally, I want to go out winning,” Moore said. “I was hoping that we could come out and win this game. But the ball didn’t bounce our way going in the hoop.”

And while Kone (2-of-2 from the field, two blocks, two steals in 21 minutes) managed to crack a Georgia State interior that blocked eight shots, including six by Eric Buckner, and was otherwise unyielding against the Dutchmen.

“I thought Moussa did a terrific job for us,” Cassara said. “He was very active. Even Mike, coming out of one of the timeouts, said ‘Let’s get Moussa in there’ because he was really active on defense. And I thought he was active on offense as well.”

In the end, though, the result was familiar as the Dutchmen’s imperfections proved too much to overcome. “Georgia State [is] a very good team,” Cassara said. “To beat a good team. We have to be great right now. And that’s what we’re going to keep striving for.”

3 STARS OF THE GAME (vs. Georgia State, 2/4)
3: Nathaniel Lester
2: Mike Moore
1: Moussa Kone

Mike Moore 53
Nathaniel Lester 37
Dwan McMillan 17
David Imes 14
Shemiye McLendon 9
Stephen Nwaukoni 8
Stevie Mejia 6
Moussa Kone 3
Bryant Crowder 2
Matt Grogan 1

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