Friday, March 8, 2013

TGTBATQ: Drexel 63. Hofstra 54 (Or: We’re a hard case that’s hard to beat)

(Note: I have been terribly derelict about posting game recaps this season, partially because I’ve been busy with work and fatherhood but mostly because this season has been devastatingly depressing. However, I hate the idea of not properly archiving these games, so to speak, so I came up with a compromise that will allow me to chronicle #HofstraPun the season in a basic, quick-hit fashion. So welcome to The Good, The Bad & The Quirky. Or, as I like to call it, TGTBATQ. Pretty self-explanatory, and probably something I should consider employing from the start next year so that I don’t fall into this trap again. Enjoy!)

THE GOOD: Stevie Mejia (him again?!) tied a career high with 22 points on 7-of-13 shooting, the career-best fifth straight game in which he shot at least 46 percent from the field. Stephen Nwaukoni pulled down 12 rebounds in a gritty, gutty effort, at least until he suffered a season-ending shoulder injury in the final minute. Taran Buie stirred a bit by scoring 13 points on 3-of-9 shooting from the field and 5-of-9 from the line. The free throw attempts were his most of the conference season. After a brutal shooting performance in the first half (5-of-19), the Dutchmen shot 50 percent in the second half (11-of-22) and briefly cut the deficit to five points.

THE BAD: A team that has absorbed blow after blow, from a personnel standpoint, finally took the knockout punch when Nwaukoni crumpled to the ground after getting tied up with Darryl McCoy. Nwaukoni, who was banged up twice earlier in the game, was in such pain from his separated shoulder that he couldn’t even walk off the court upright. He underwent surgery last week and is expected to need up to seven months of rehab. Nwaukoni seemed to turn the corner in his development in February, when he averaged 6.0 ppg and 9.0 rpg in six games. A healthy Nwaukoni and a maturing Moussa Kone provide the Dutchmen with a sneaky good frontcourt as well as the only thing resembling a foundation heading into next year, so Mo Cassara can only hope Nwaukoni is 100 percent by the opener.

Everything else paled in comparison to Nwaukoni’s injury, but the Dutchmen never led again after surrendering an 8-0 run late in the first half. Before that, the two teams played 12 minutes of basketball so unsightly from an offensive perspective that James Naismith, tuning into NBC Sports Network from the great beyond, may have regretted ever inventing the game. Hofstra and Drexel combined for 15 points on their first 34 possessions. The Dragons didn’t break double digits until Damion Lee’s jumper with 7:48 left and the Dutchmen didn’t get to that magic figure until Mejia’s 3-pointer with 5:38 left. The Dutchmen opened the game by committing turnovers on their first three possessions and on nine of their first 19 overall.

THE QUIRKY: This is the bad quirky, not the good quirky: Nwaukoni became the second Hofstra junior big man in as many years to suffer a season-ending injury at Drexel. David Imes missed the final five games of his junior year after he suffered a hip injury in the first half last Feb. 11. Not kidding at all when I suggest Kone skip the trip to Philadelphia next year.

3 STARS OF THE GAME (vs. Drexel, 2/18)
3: Stevie Mejia
2: Stephen Nwaukoni
1: Taran Buie

43: Stevie Mejia
32: Taran Buie
28: Stephen Nwaukoni
15: David Imes
12: Jordan Allen
5: Moussa Kone
3: Daquan Brown
2: Matt Grogan
1: Adam Savion

***21 points vacated

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