Mo Cassara preached caution after the Flying Dutchmen led wire-to-wire in beating William & Mary Jan. 12 to earn their second win in three #CAAHoops games. With the memories of an 0-fer December still fresh, Cassara reminded his listeners that “…it’s not going to be easy, we’re going to have some more dips and some more ups and downs.”
It didn’t take the Dutchmen long to prove Cassara clairvoyant. The Dutchmen’s 57-46 loss to George Mason Jan. 19 doesn’t look that bad on the scoreboard, and an 11-point loss on the back end of a two-game road trip to a program that has owned the good guys since The Great Screw Job (Hofstra is now 2-9 against George Mason since twitch Tom O’Connor wasn’t in the room twitch but who’s counting?) would seem to be the type of competitive defeat that could provide the Dutchmen some fuel and some optimism as the February rematch with the Patriots and March’s CAA Tournament approach.
Except…hoo boy, this was some dip. A historic one, even, for all the wrong reasons, and a loss that proved just how tenuous the Dutchmen’s trip on momentum will be for the remainder of this season.
We could get creative with the adjectives to describe the Dutchmen’s shooting in Fairfax, or we could just state the facts: It was the program’s worst single-game performance in a generation. The Dutchmen were an ice cold 11-of-48 (22.9 percent) from the field, the fewest field goals in a game since the Dutchmen had 11 baskets against Boston University Feb. 15, 1995 and the lowest shooting percentage since Hofstra shot 21.5 percent against UNLV Dec. 30, 1992.
The Dutchmen didn’t set any negative records from outside, but not for a lack of trying: They were 1-of-13 on 3-pointers and missed their last nine attempts after Taran Buie’s 3-pointer with 14:45 left in the first half.
The top three scorers for the Dutchmen—Buie (14 points), Stevie Mejia (10 points) and Stephen Nwaukoni (eight points)—combined for 32 points on 9-of-31 shooting. Everyone else was (doing the math) 2-for-17. Three days after draining five 3-pointers against Northeastern, David Imes was 0-for-8 from the field. Oof.
And it could have been worse: The Dutchmen were just 4-of-25 from the floor in the first half, when they endured stretches of 7:30 and 7:15 without a field goal. They “improved” to 7-of-23 in the second half, but had just one field goal in the final 10 minutes, a span in which they went scoreless from the field for 8:11.
Such droughts made it even easier than usual to believe the Dutchmen were right there on the road against a superior foe. One basket apiece during those three extended droughts and it’s a five-point game. Sigh.
Of course, there were other elements to the defeat that probably would have cropped up and haunted the Dutchmen anyway, most notably the assist-to-turnover ratio of 1:5. Not a misprint—three assists, 15 turnovers. The Dutchmen also didn’t maximize their opportunities at the free throw line, where they were a good-but-not-great 23-of-31 against one of the most foul-prone teams in the country.
A down week (spoiler alert: The next week was a down one too) after an upbeat one? We can’t say we weren’t warned.
3 STARS OF THE GAME (vs. George Mason, 1/19)
3: Stephen Nwaukoni
2: Taran Buie
1: Stevie Mejia
26: Taran Buie
23: Stevie Mejia
15: Stephen Nwaukoni
7: David Imes
7: Jordan Allen
4: Moussa Kone
3: Daquan Brown
2: Matt Grogan
Email Jerry at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow Defiantly Dutch at http://twitter.com/defiantlydutch.