This guy was a helluva player.
The Flying Dutchmen traveled back in time to the #CAAHoops rock fight days Sunday afternoon, when they overcame a slow start and rode a dominant defensive performance in pulling away from Drexel and earning a 61-43 win in the CAA semifinals. The Dutchmen will look to get to the CAA title game for a second straight year in familiar fashion tonight, when they face fifth-seeded Delaware. Here’s a look back at the win over the Dragons and a look ahead to the Blue Hens as well as some odds and ends regarding the CAA Tournament.
THE MOST RECENT GAME SUMMARIZED IN ONE PARAGRAPH
Eli Pemberton went into takeover mode in the second half, when he scored 15 of his game-high 19 points as the Dutchmen turned a nail-biter into their most lopsided CAA Tournament win in 18 years. The Dutchmen trailed for much of the first half and led 25-22 at intermission before Pemberton scored the first seven points of the second half and had 11 points in a 14-3 run that gave Hofstra a double-digit lead for good. Pemberton also tied a career-high with 12 rebounds. Desure Buie had 14 points, eight assists and six rebounds. Jalen Ray came up big in the first half, when he scored nine of his 14 points. Isaac Kante added 13 points and six rebounds. Dutchmen limited Drexel to 2-of-22 shooting from 3-point range while allowing the program’s fewest points ever in a conference tournament game.
3 STARS OF THE GAME (vs. Drexel 3/8)
3: Eli Pemberton
2: Desure Buie
1: Jalen Ray
Desure Buie 60
Eli Pemberton 46
Isaac Kante 35
Tareq Coburn 29
Jalen Ray 17
Stafford Trueheart 3
Omar Silverio 2
COACHSPEAK: “Credit to (Drexel) for the way they played in the first half. But our guys had great poise and great composure, two qualities that I think championship teams have. We’ve had it all year long. We knew what we had to do at halftime. That doesn’t mean it was going to be easy, but number four and number five just weren’t going to let us lose.”
THIS IS THE 25TH ANNIVERSARY OF FRIENDS’ FIRST SEASON, WHAT WOULD THIS GAME BE TITLED IF IT WAS AN EPISODE OF FRIENDS?
The One Where We Won A Rock Fight
WAS THIS A UNICORN SCORE?
Yes! You would have thought there would be a few 61-43 wins back in the pre-shot clock days. But while the Dutchmen beat Georgia Tech 61-42 in the first round of the Holiday Festival on Dec. 26, 1998, knocked off Scranton by the same score during the 1952-53 season and beat Princeton 61-44 on Jan. 15, 1979, they’d never won 61-43 before Sunday. That’s three straight unicorn score victories for the Dutchmen and 13 overall this season, three more than last year. Is that good luck? The term unicorn score was coined by Mets superfan, historian and blogger Greg Prince to describe a score by which the Mets had never previously won.
11/9/19: 94-74 over Monmouth
11/15/19: 111-69 over New York Tech
11/21/19: 88-78 over UCLA
12/1/19: 91-69 over Holy Cross
12/2/19: 64-57 over Canisius
12/10/19: 71-63 over SUNY-Stony Brook
1/4/20: 102-75 over Elon
1/30/20: 86-63 over Elon
2/1/20: 83-60 over William & Mary
2/15/20: 78-64 over UNC Wilmington
2/22/20: 78-62 over Delaware
2/29/20: 97-81 over James Madison
3/8/20: 61-43 over Drexel
THE FLYING DUTCHMEN AFTER THIRTY-TWO GAMES
With the win over Drexel, the Dutchmen improved to 24-8. This ties the 2019-20 team for the second-best record through 32 games among the 14 teams that played at least 32 games. The 2015-16 team was also 24-8 through 32 games. All the seasons that have lasted at least 32 games have been played since 1998-99. We’re at the point where it’s just easier to show you the teams that did play at least 32 games, so here you go!
2018-19: 26-6 (beat James Madison in CAA quarterfinals)
2016-17: 15-17 (season ended with loss to Delaware in CAA first round)
2015-16: 24-8 (beat William & Mary in CAA semifinals)
2014-15: 20-12 (beat James Madison in CAA quarterfinals)
2013-14: 10-22 (beat UNC Wilmington in CAA first round)
2012-13: 7-25 (season ended with loss to Delaware in CAA quarterfinals)
2011-12: 10-22 (season ended with loss to Georgia State in CAA first round)
2010-11: 21-11 (lost to Old Dominion in CAA semifinals)
2009-10: 19-13 (beat Georgia State in CAA first round)
2008-09: 21-11 (season ended with loss to Old Dominion in CAA quarterfinals)
2006-07: 22-10 (season ended with loss to DePaul in NIT first round)
2005-06: 26-6 (beat Saint Joseph’s in NIT second round)
2001-02: 12-20 (season ended with loss to VCU in CAA semifinals)
1998-99: 22-10 (season ended with loss to Rutgers in NIT first round)
A RARE LOPSIDED TOURNAMENT WIN
The 18-point margin of victory for the Dutchmen was their largest in a CAA Tournament game since the program’s very first CAA Tournament win on Mar. 1, 2002, when Hofstra cruised to a 72-52 victory over Towson in a first-round game.
THE DEFENSE DIDN’T REST
The Dutchmen recorded perhaps the most notable defensive effort of the Joe Mihalich era Sunday afternoon. The 43 points allowed were the second-fewest a Hofstra team has surrendered under Mihalich (behind only the 40 points given up in a 73-40 win over Charleston on Feb. 25, 2015) as well as just the fourth time the Dutchmen have allowed fewer than 50 points under Mihalich. It was only the 10th time in Mihalich’s head coaching career — spanning 22 seasons and 699 games — that his team has allowed fewer than 50 points.
3/8/20: Hofstra 61, Drexel 43
12/28/18: Hofstra 91, Delaware 46
2/8/18: Hofstra 67, Elon 48
2/25/15: Hofstra 73, Charleston 40
11/21/09: Niagara 63, Central Florida 46
2/12/09: Niagara 57, Canisius 41
1/31/09: Niagara 68, Manhattan 49
11/28/08: Niagara 71, Monmouth 48
2/13/02: Niagara 65, Loyola (MD) 42
1/12/99: Niagara 51, Manhattan 49
In addition, the 43 points allowed were the fewest Hofstra’s even given up in a conference tournament and the fewest a CAA team has allowed in a conference tournament game since 2009, when Georgia State beat Delaware, 61-41, in a first-round game.
CLAMPING DOWN FROM OUTSIDE
Drexel was just 2-of-22 (.091) from 3-point land on Sunday — the worst shooting percentage for a Hofstra opponent from beyond the arc in the 168 games in which an opponent has lofted at least 20 3-point attempts since 2010-11, the first season of the Play Index era at CollegeBasketballReference.com. The previous low was set a mere few weeks ago by Delaware, which was 3-of-20 (15%) from 3-point land in a 73-71 win over the Dutchmen on Jan. 23.
SO WHO HAS A DOUBLE-DIGIT SCORING STREAK NOW?
Justin Wright-Foreman, as you may or may not recall, ended his Hofstra career by scoring in double figures in each of his last 88 games. With Desure Buie’s streak ending last Saturday, the longest such streak now belongs to Eli Pemberton, who has 12 straight double-digit efforts.
A PRETTY GOOD TWO-YEAR SPAN
The win Sunday was the 51st in the last two seasons for the Dutchmen, breaking the school record for most wins over a two-season period set by Jay Wright’s final two teams, which reached the NCAA Tournament by going 24-7 in 1999-2000 and 26-5 in 2000-01.
THE NUMBER ONES KEEP STREAKING
The win by the Dutchmen marked the 29th straight season in which the CAA’s no. 1 seed won its first tournament game. The no. 1 seed in the CAA is 37-1 in its opener, with the only loss happening when James Madison fell to Navy, 85-82, in 1991. I was still in high school then!
In addition, the no. 1 seed in Hofstra’s conference tournament has now won its opener 26 straight times. The only no. 1 seed to fall in its opener in the Defiantly Dutch era was the very first no. 1 seed. Troy State, which was never a state even though the East Coast Conference was definitely a league, received a bye to the 1994 ECC semifinals and fell to the Flying Dutchmen, 90-89, in overtime.
OVER THE AIR
Tonight’s game will be aired live on CBS Sports Network. That’s channel 214 if you have Cablevision or Optimum or Altice or whatever the hell our local overlords are called now. Hofstra will also provide audio and live stats at the Pride Productions hub.
BACK IN THE SEMIS
The Dutchmen are in the CAA semifinals for the second straight season and the eighth time since joining the league prior to the 2001-02 season. Hofstra fell in the semifinals in 2002, 2005, 2011 and 2015 and reached the title game before losing in 2006, 2016 and 2019.
This is the Dutchmen’s 13th trip to the conference semifinals dating back to 1994. Hofstra fell in the America East semifinals in 1998 and 1999 and won it all in the ECC in 1994 and in the America East in 2000 and 2001.
MIDNIGHT HASN’T STRUCK YET FOR CINDERELLA
The CAA Tournament was finally thrown into chaos Sunday night, when seventh-seeded Elon stunned William & Mary, 68-63, and sixth-seeded Northeastern beat third-seeded Towson, 72-62. Elon is the first team seeded lower than sixth to reach the semifinals since Towson did so as an 11 seed in 2009. This is the first time the CAA semifinals have included the first, fifth, sixth and seventh seeds. The sum of the seeds (19) is the highest since 2002, when the first, third, fifth and 10th seeds reached the semifinals.
HELLO OUR FRIENDS WE MEET AGAIN
The Dutchmen will be facing Delaware in conference tournament play for the ninth time — all since 1994-95, when the Dutchmen joined the North Atlantic Conference. The nine conference tournament games are the most for Hofstra against any opponent in the NAC/America East/CAA era.
The Dutchmen are 3-5 in conference tournament games against Delaware. Last year’s 78-74 overtime win in the CAA semifinals snapped a three-game tournament losing streak against the Blue Hens and marked the Dutchmen’s first postseason win over Delaware since the 2001 America East championship game — the second of the back-to-back victories over the Blue Hens in the America East title game.
1997 America East QFs: Delaware 86-73
1998 America East SFs: Delaware 60-51
2000 America East championship: Hofstra 76-69***
2001 America East championship: Hofstra 68-54***
2013 CAA QFs: Delaware 62-57
2014 CAA QFs: Delaware 87-76
2017 CAA PFF: Delaware 81-76
2019 CAA SFs: Hofstra 78-74 (overtime)
The Blue Hens, under fourth-year head coach Martin Ingelsby, advanced to the semifinals for the second straight year by beating fourth-seeded Charleston, 79-67. The win was the 10th in the last 13 games for Delaware, which improved to 22-10.
The Dutchmen and Blue Hens had one common foe in non-league play. Hofstra beat SUNY-Stony Brook, 71-63, on Dec. 10 while Delaware handed the Patriots a 75-61 loss on Nov. 27. (Insert Nelson Muntz laugh here)
Both teams swept Elon, Northeastern, James Madison and UNC Wilmington in regular season play and split with Towson. The Dutchmen swept Drexel, which split with Delaware, and split with Charleston and William & Mary, each of whom swept the Blue Hens in the regular season.
The Dutchmen, who were picked first in the CAA preseason poll, are ranked 115th at KenPom.com. The Blue Hens, who were picked fifth, are ranked 176th at KenPom.com.
According to KenPom.com, the Dutchmen rank first in the CAA in league-only offensive efficiency (114.4) and third in defensive efficiency (103.5). The Blue Hens rank third in the CAA in league-only offensive efficiency (108.1) and seventh in defensive efficiency (107.1).
Redshirt junior guard Nate Darling, a transfer from Alabama-Birmingham, leads the Blue Hens with 21.3 ppg and ranks second with 2.8 assists per game. Junior guard Ryan Allen is averaging 12.2 ppg while junior forward Justyn Mutts is averaging 12.1 ppg and pulling down a team-high 8.5 rebounds per game. Junior guard Kevin Anderson is averaging 11.5 ppg and leads Delaware with 3.7 assists per game. Redshirt sophomore Dylan Painter, a transfer from Villanova, is averaging 9.5 points and 5.7 rebounds per game since becoming eligible Dec. 16.
KenPom.com predicts a 77-73 win for the Dutchmen. Per the wise guys in Vegas, for entertainment purposes only, the Dutchmen are 4-point favorites as of this morning. The Dutchmen are 21-9-1 against the spread this season.
ALL-TIME VS. DELAWARE
Hofstra is 60-33 against Delaware in a series that began during the 1954-55 season. The Blue Hens are Hofstra’s most common foe. The Dutchmen and Delaware were rivals in the East Coast Conference and the North Atlantic Conference/America East before heading to the CAA, along with Drexel and Towson, for the 2001-02 season.
The teams split two games this season, with each winning on the road. Kevin Anderson drove the length of the court and hit the tie-breaking layup just before time expired to give Delaware a 73-71 win on Long Island on Jan. 23 before the Dutchmen pulled away in the second half of a 78-62 win in New-ARK on Feb. 22.
THINGS YOU CAN SHOUT ON TWITTER IF CALLS GO DO NOT GO HOFSTRA’S WAY
Bob Greene bias! (The fitness guru went to Delaware)
Mike Pegues bias! (Nothing wrong with going old-school on a day like this)
Mike Koplove bias! (The former sidearming reliever went to Delaware)
41-41 tie bias! (They could use this one for us, too)