Thursday, February 9, 2017

I'll Be Quirky: Towson

Good place to see a show back in the day.

The Flying Dutchmen pulled off one of the most stunning comebacks in program history Saturday night, when they overcame a 10-point deficit by scoring 12 unanswered points in the final minute of a 79-77 win over Drexel at the Arena. The Dutchmen will look to extend their winning streak to three games — and continue their pursuit of a first-round bye in the CAA Tournament — tonight, when they visit yet another ECC rival, Towson. Here’s a quick look back at the win over the Dragons and a look ahead to the Tigers.

Justin Wright-Foreman drained the go-ahead 3-pointer from the right wing with 20 seconds remaining and Drexel missed a pair of shots to take the lead in the final 10 seconds (including a 60-something footer at the buzzer, thank you Lord, we couldn’t have taken that again) as the Dutchmen hung on for a thrilling win (that they earned because I wasn’t there). The Dutchmen trailed 77-67 with a minute to go before Eli Pemberton hit a 3-pointer. Drexel’s Austin Williams missed a free throw, after which Brian Bernardi’s 3-pointer pulled the Dutchmen within 77-73. The Dragons’ Kurk Lee missed two free throws and Deron Powers followed by hitting two free throws. An off-ball foul by Drexel on an inbounds play set up Wright-Foreman’s shot. Drexel missed two chances to take the lead in the final 10 seconds, including a 60-something footer at the buzzer (thank you Lord, we couldn’t have taken that again) after a missed free throw by Pemberton. Wright-Foreman and Powers each finished with 20 points while Pemberton (16 points) and Bernardi (10 points) also scored in double figures for the Dutchmen, who trailed by as many as 13 in the second half. Powers added six assists and three steals while Wright-Foreman had four assists. Hunter Sabety had nine points and seven rebounds before fouling out with 5:17 remaining. 

3 STARS OF THE GAME (vs. Drexel 2/4)
3: Deron Powers
2: Justin Wright-Foreman
1: Eli Pemberton

Justin Wright-Foreman 39
Deron Powers 29
Eli Pemberton 25
Brian Bernardi 19
Rokas Gustys 18
Ty Greer 9
Hunter Sabety 6
Jamall Robinson 5

While the 10-point comeback in the final minute may have been unprecedented, it was the second time in the CAA era that the Dutchmen have come back from a big late deficit to stun Drexel. On Jan. 28, 2006, the Dutchmen overcame a six-point deficit in the final 30 seconds of overtime to beat the Dragons, 76-75, in Philadelphia. Antoine Agudio hit a free throw with 25 seconds left to begin the comeback. Carlos Rivera drained a 3-pointer seven seconds later to pull the Dutchmen within 75-73. After a turnover by Drexel, Rivera was fouled with six seconds left, after which Drexel was immediately assessed a technical foul. Rivera hit three of five free throws and future Wagner head coach Bashir Mason missed a 3-pointer at the buzzer. 

The Dutchmen came back from a deficit of at least 10 points for the second straight game, the third time this season and the 12th time in four seasons under Joe Mihalich. The Dutchmen trailed Delaware by 14 points in the first half last Thursday and trailed Coppin State by 11 points in the first half of a 74-72 win in the season opener on Nov. 11. 

vs. Drexel 2/4/17 (trailed by 13 in 2H, won 79-77)
vs. Delaware 2/2/17 (trailed by 14 in 1H, won 73-65)
vs. Coppin State 11/11/16 (trailed by 11 in 1H, won 74-72)
vs. UNCW 2/25/16 ( trailed by 18 in 1H, won 70-69)
vs. Drexel 1/30/16 (trailed by 12 in 2H, won 70-64)
vs. Sacred Heart 12/28/15 (trailed by 11 in 2H, won 80-73)
vs. St. Bonaventure 11/28/15 ( trailed by 10 in 1H, won 89-83)
vs. Canisius 11/13/15 (trailed by 18 in 1H, won 96-85)
vs. Towson 2/18/15 (trailed by 14 in 1H, won 87-82)
vs. UNCW 1/3/15 (trailed by 13 in 1H, won 68-56)
vs. UNCW 2/8/14 (trailed by 15 in 2H, won 61-52)
vs. Charleston 1/11/14 (trailed by 14 in 1H, won 75-71)

Not surprisingly, Saturday marked the latest the Dutchmen have trailed by double digits in any of these victories. The Dutchmen trailed by at least 10 points in the second half of eight of the 12 comeback victories. Prior to Saturday, the latest they trailed by double digits in a victory in the Mihalich era was Feb. 25, 2016, when the Dutchmen were down by 10 against UNC Wilmington with 5:57 to go.

The Dutchmen are still facing an uphill climb to get out of “Pillowfight Friday,” but their two wins last week give them a chance to finish in the top six and earn a first-round bye. Here are the bottom half of the CAA standings entering tonight.

6.) Northeastern 6-6
7.) James Madison 5-7
8.) HOFSTRA 4-8
9.) Drexel 2-10
10.) Delaware 2-10

The Dutchmen currently have the tiebreaker over Northeastern, whom they beat 78-73 on Jan, 21, but not over James Madison, who handed the Dutchmen a 62-54 loss on Jan. 5. The Dutchmen visit Northeastern on Saturday and James Madison in the regular season finale Feb. 25. 

In addition, Drexel is technically the ninth seed at the moment by virtue of its head-to-head win over Delaware.

Junior forward Rokas Gustys missed his third straight game with an undisclosed injury. Only Greer, Hunter Sabety, Deron Powers and Justin Wright-Foreman have played in every game this season. The The longest consecutive games streak belongs to Wright-Foreman, who has played in the Dutchmen’s last 40 games.

The Dutchmen improved to 73-54 (.575) in regular season games played on or after Feb. 1. Joe Mihalich is 97-52 (.651) in regular season games played on or after Feb. 1.

Sophomore guard Justin Wright-Foreman tied for the team lead Saturday, when he scored 20 points. It was the fifth straight game in which Wright-Foreman has at least shared the team lead in points, the seventh time he has done so during CAA play and the 10th time overall this season.
Wright-Foreman has played at least 10 minutes in every game but one this season and has scored in double figures in 18 of 24 games. He scored more than four points and played more than 10 points in just one game last season, when he collected nine points in 17 minutes against Division II Molloy. 

Wright-Foreman, who scored 44 points in 27 games last season, has scored 397 points this season, the most in the CAA era for a Hofstra sophomore who scored fewer than 100 points as a freshman.

Hofstra will provide a video and radio feed of today’s game at the Pride Productions hub.

The Tigers, under sixth-year head coach Pat Skerry, are 15-10 this season and 7-5 in CAA play. Towson has won seven of eight since an 0-4 start in the CAA and came back from a 16-point second half deficit on Saturday to edge William & Mary, 80-78.

The Dutchmen and Tigers had one mutual foe during non-league play. The Dutchmen routed SUNY-Stony Brook, 96-58, while Towson had a similarly easy time in beating the Patriots 88-63.

The Tigers won the first game this season between the rivals on Jan. 19, when they overcame a 16-point first half deficit to earn an 86-80 win at the Arena. Towson is looking to sweep the season series for the first time since the 2013-14 season.

In CAA play, the Dutchmen and Tigers have each lost once apiece to UNC Wilmington and James Madison and have each swept Delaware and beaten Drexel once. The Dutchmen beat Northeastern, which split the season series with Towson, and were swept by Elon, which won the lone meeting so far with Towson. The Tigers have split with College of Charleston and William & Mary, each of whom won their lone meetings so far with the Dutchmen.

The Dutchmen, who were picked sixth in the CAA preseason poll, enter today ranked 204th at and 210th in the RPI. The Tigers, who were picked second, are ranked 135th at and 97th in the RPI.

Per the wise guys in Vegas, for entertainment purposes only, the Tigers are 4-point favorites.

The Dutchmen rank third among CAA teams in scoring (77.7 ppg) but are allowing 77.3 ppg, the second-most in the league.

The Dutchmen rank fifth in the CAA in field goal percentage (44.6%) and third in 3-point field goal percentage (36.4%) They are allowing opposing teams to shoot 46.2 percent overall, eighth in the league, and 38.7 percent from beyond the arc, which is last. 

The Tigers rank sixth in the CAA in scoring (74.0 ppg) and are allowing 69.5 ppg, which ranks third.

The Tigers are sixth in the CAA in field goal percentage (44.3%) and ninth in 3-point field goal percentage (31.0%). They are second in field goal percentage defense (41.8%) and sixth in 3-point field goal percentage defense (34.8%).

Hofstra is 39-25 against Towson in a series that began during the 1982-83 season, when both schools were in the East Coast Conference. Hofstra and Towson opposed one another in the ECC and the North Atlantic Conference/America East before moving together to the CAA for the 2001-02 school year. Hofstra has faced only three opponents as often as it’s faced Towson: Longtime conference rivals Delaware and Drexel as well as Manhattan, which Hofstra played for the 63rd time in November.

Towson’s 86-80 win over the Dutchmen on Jan. 19 snapped Hofstra’s three-game winning streak in the series. The Tigers are seeking their first sweep of the Dutchmen since the 2012-13 season.

Tonight’s game marks the Dutchmen’s final regular season game against a former ECC rival. The Dutchmen must win in order to keep alive their hopes of sharing the regular season crown in their parallel universe conference.

Towson 4-0  
Drexel 2-2
Delaware 0-5

There are two ECC games left after tonight. Towson visits Drexel on Saturday while Delaware hosts Drexel next Thursday.  

The Dutchmen lost a whopping 50.3 ppg from last year’s squad via the graduations of Juan’ya Green (17.8 ppg), Ameen Tanksley 15.9 ppg), Denton Koon (11.4 ppg) and Malik Nichols (5.2 ppg). But they have “found” 56.4 ppg this season via five players who didn’t play for the team in 2015-16, plus the emergence of sophomore Justin Wright-Foreman. 

Justin Wright-Foreman (14.7)***
Eli Pemberton (13.3)
Deron Powers (13.3)
Ty Greer (6.9)
Hunter Sabety (4.3)
Jamall Robinson (3.9)

***The Wright-Foreman average subtracts the 1.2 ppg he averaged last season to better account for the “found” points.

Eli Pemberton, who was the first Hofstra freshman since Antoine Agudio (2004-05) to open his career by scoring in double digits in his first five games, is already the 19th Dutchmen freshman in the CAA era to score at least 100 points in his debut season. With 16 points on Saturday, Pemberton moved past teammate Jamall Robinson into sixth place on the CAA-era freshman scoring list. He is seven points away from moving past Chaz Williams into fifth place.

1.) Antoine Agudio, 452 (2004-05)
2.) Charles Jenkins, 436 (2007-08)
3.) Kenny Adeleke, 433 (2001-02)
4.) Loren Stokes, 374 (2003-04)
5.) Chaz Williams, 325 (2009-10)
6.) ELI PEMBERTON, 319 (2016-17)
7.) Jamall Robinson, 312 (2013-14)
8.) Halil Kanacevic, 294 (2009-10)
9.) Carlos Rivera, 226 (2003-04)
10.) Nathaniel Lester, 189 (2007-08)

SR-71 bias! (The band responsible for the great “Now You See Inside” album hails from Baltimore)
Recher Theatre bias! (I saw SR-71 there in 2004)
Buck Showalter shoulda brought in Zach Britton bias! (c’mon folks know your 2016 baseball playoffs)
The Wire bias! (It’s one of those shows everyone likes but I’ve never seen)

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