Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Hofstra 74, University of District of Columbia 59 (Or: Keep on moving)

The Flying Dutchmen made some history and led wire-to-wire Saturday, but didn’t get to .500 in the most artful of fashions in their 74-59 win over Division II foe University of District of Columbia. But just getting to .500 was good enough for a team that six days earlier looked as if it might send certain stat dorks diving into media guides in search of the worst season-opening losing streak in program history.

“We’ve got Marshall at home [today], a NCAA Tournament-type team, a chance to win three games in a row,” Mo Cassara said. “If you would have told me that last Monday, I would have said you’re absolutely crazy.”

1.) This may have been the most balanced game ever played by a Hofstra basketball team. Six Dutchmen reached double figures—almost certainly the first time that’s happened in the Defiantly Dutch Era, I will research and report back to you ASAP—and all six scored between 11 and 13 points. Five players had between seven and nine rebounds. And six players played between 21 and 29 minutes. It all happened against a Division II foe, of course, but that’s still pretty impressive.

2.) The Dutchmen were never seriously threatened after opening the game on an 11-0 run—District of Columbia twice had a chance to close within four or five points in the second half—but they never really buried the Firebirds either after opening a 20-point lead 15 minutes into the contest. Cassara, recognizing the Dutchmen were battling fatigue after an emotional win over South Dakota State less than 24 hours earlier, fiddled with the lineup in the second half in hopes of finding a cohesive mix.

“We just didn’t have that zip today, we didn’t have the energy,” Cassara said. “We had a chance to really put them away midway through the first half and kind of end the game and we didn’t. And that’s something that we have to learn from, we have to continue to get better, continue to find ways that we don’t let that happen.”

3.) The Dutchmen got what they needed out of their handful of veterans. Stevie Mejia had another solid game (11 points and seven rebounds, his second straight game with seven boards, in 29 minutes) while David Imes had 11 points—including the historic jumper that provided the Dutchmen’s final points with 43 seconds left—seven rebounds and two blocks in 29 minutes. And Stephen Nwaukoni turned 21 years old in impressive fashion as he scored nine of his career-high 13 points and grabbed five of his nine rebounds in just nine second half minutes. Upperclassmen accounted for 75 of the 200 minutes played by the Dutchmen, the most this season.

4.) Nwaukoni wasn’t the only projected starter to provide a boost off the bench. For the second straight game, Taran Buie jumpstarted the Dutchmen by draining a 3-pointer on his first shot of the game. Buie’s 3-pointer began a 26-12 run by the Dutchmen in which he scored all 12 of his points as the Dutchmen took their biggest lead at 39-19.

Buie’s production and pedigree suggests he’ll start sooner than later as long as he can stay out of trouble, but for the moment Cassara is happy with him serving as the Dutchmen’s Vinnie Johnson (GOOGLE IT EVERYONE EXCEPT GARY MOORE)—even if Buie, in a moment of refreshing honesty by both player and coach, admitted he’d rather start.

Asked if he liked coming off the bench, Buie paused and looked at Cassara, who grinned. “You can answer it honestly, it’s OK,” Cassara said.

“No, I’m not really too thrilled about coming off the bench,” Buie said as those in the room laughed. “But like I said, I’m just going to do anything to help this team get towards the win.”

5.) FUN STATS! The Dutchmen are 2-2 for the 27th time in program history and for the second year in a row. They are 2-2 after an 0-2 start for the fifth time in program history and the first since 1990-91. I was a high school senior back then! #OLD…The Dutchmen have had at least five players score in double figures 11 times in their last 82 games dating back to a 93-54 win over UNC Wilmington on Jan. 27, 2010. That game snapped a 122-game streak in which the Dutchmen never had five players score in double figures, dating back to the epic win over George Mason on Feb. 23, 2006. Hey, did that win catapult the Dutchmen into the NCAA Tournament?...This is the second straight year in which Nwaukoni has set his career high for points in the middle game of a Gazelle Group tournament. He scored 12 points against Cleveland State last Nov. 26. Hey, at least someone likes the Gazelle Group!

3 STARS OF THE GAME (vs. University of District of Columbia, 11/16)
3: Stephen Nwaukoni
2: Jimmy Hall
1: Stevie Mejia

8: Jimmy Hall
4: Moussa Kone
4: Stevie Mejia
3: Stephen Nwaukoni
2: Taran Buie
2: Shaq Stokes
1: David Imes

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