The championship defense continued Sunday morning and early afternoon when Jalen Ray had a classic senior moment by scoring a career-high 34 points as the Dutchmen came back from their three-week pause to pull away late from Delaware, 83-75. The Dutchmen will look to once again advance to the championship game tonight, when they face eighth-seeded Elon — yup, that happened — in the first semifinal. Here’s a look back at the win over the Blue Hens and a hopeful look ahead to the Phoenix.
THE MOST RECENT GAME SUMMARIZED IN ONE PARAGRAPH
Jalen Ray went all JWF as he scored 22 points in the second half to lift the Dutchmen past Delaware in a game far tighter than the final score indicated. There were 13 ties and 20 lead changes and neither team led by more than seven points before Ray (who else?) drained a tie-breaking jumper with 6:39 left to begin a game-ending 22-14 run. Ray and fellow senior Tareq Coburn scored the first 11 points in the run. Caleb Burgess (11 points, nine rebounds, eight assists) nearly had a triple-double while Issac Kante (14 points, 13 rebounds) posted a double-double. Coburn was limited to just 22 minutes due to four fouls but scored 12 points.
3 STARS OF THE GAME (vs. Delaware 3/7)
3: Jalen Ray
2: Caleb Burgess
1: Isaac Kante
Jalen Ray 42
Isaac Kante 31
Tareq Coburn 24
Caleb Burgess 18
KVonn Cramer 13
Omar Silverio 3
Kevin Schutte 1
WAS THIS A UNICORN SCORE?
No but considering it’d been three weeks since the Dutchmen played and four weeks since they won a game, we’re not complaining about the lack of unicorn scores anymore. The Dutchmen previously beat Iona 83-75 on Dec. 29, 2011.
As you no doubt know by now, the Dutchmen have yet to record a unicorn score this season. The Dutchmen recorded 13 unicorn score victories last season, three more than in 2018-19, which was when we first started tracking unicorn scores. 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.
THE FLYING DUTCHMEN AFTER TWENTY-TWO GAMES
With Sunday’s win, the Dutchmen improved to 13-9, which is tied for the 30th-best start in school history. Just two other teams have opened 13-9, most recently the 2017-18 squad. Here is how some notable Hofstra teams have fared through 22 games.
NCAA DIVISION I TOURNAMENT TEAMS
1975-76: 12-10 (ended a season-long pattern of never being more than one game over or under .500)
1976-77: 16-6 (win in 22nd game marked second win of nine-game winning streak that carried Dutchmen into the NCAAs)
1999-2000: 17-5 (most recent 17-5 start, win in 22nd game marked final win of 10-game winning streak)
2000-01: 18-4 (win in 22nd game marked 10th win in program-record 18-game winning streak)
2019-20 (IT COUNTS TO US): 15-7
2005-06: 18-4 (most recent 18-4 start)
2015-16: 16-6 (most recent 16-6 start)
2018-19: 19-3 (win in 22nd game marked final win in the 16-game winning streak)
NCAA DIVISION II TOURNAMENT TEAMS
1962-63: 16-6 (fifth win of 11-game winning streak)
Some other notable 22-game records:
2016-17: 10-12 (most recent 10-12 start)
2014-15: 14-8 (most recent 14-8 start)
2013-14: 7-15 (most recent 7-15 start, Joe Mihalich’s first team)
2012-13: 5-17 (most recent 5-17 start, tied for worst 22-game record in school history)
1995-96: 7-15 (loss in 22nd game marked eighth loss of Jay Wright-era record nine-game losing streak)
1994-95: 7-15 (Jay Wright’s first year)
1993-94: 5-17 (wins in games 21-22 were the first back-to-back wins all season; VBK’s last year)
1992-93: 6-16 (most recent 6-16 start)
1991-92: 14-8 (win in 22nd game was third in nine-game winning streak that ended in ECC title game)
1990-91: 12-10 (most recent 12-10 start)
1988-89: 9-13 (most recent 9-13 start)
1987-88: 5-17 (win in 22nd game snapped program-record 12-game losing streak)
1986-87: 8-14 (most reent 8-14 start)
1985-86: 13-9 (first and only other 13-9 start)
1984-85: 11-11 (most recent 11-11 start)
1981-82: 11-11 (at .500 for the last time, fourth loss of eight-game losing streak)
1978-79: 8-14 (last win of season and last win of Roger Gaeckler’s tenure)
1974-75: 8-13 (last loss of season)
1973-74: 6-16 (last win of season)
1972-73: 8-13 (last win of season)
1971-72: 11-11 (at .500 for the last time, first loss of season-ending four-game losing streak)
1970-71: 14-8 (first win of season-ending five-game winning streak)
1959-60: 21-1 (only 21-1 start & Hofstra’s winningest team, percentage-wise; win in 22nd game was 11th win of season-ending 13-game winning streak)
1955-56: 20-2 (only 20-2 start)
1946-47: 16-6 (last loss of season)
Hofstra has never been 22-0, 4-18, 4-19, 1-21 or 0-22 through 22 games.
The following seasons were completed in fewer than 22 games: 1947-48 (13-6), 1945-46 (12-7), 1943-44 (7-12), 1944-45 (8-13), 1943-44 (7-12), 1942-43 (15-6), 1941-42 (15-6), 1940-41 (13-7), 1939-40 (12-9), 1938-39 (10-8), 1937-38 (10-4), 1936-37 (10-7).
Full records not available for the following seasons: 1936-37, 1941-42, 1942-43, 1945-46, 1948-49, 1951-52, 1954-55, 1957-58.
This feature is inspired by Greg Prince, who measures how the current Mets compare, record-wise, to previous teams through the same point in the season.
THIRD TIME CHARMED
The Dutchmen beat Delaware in the CAA Tournament for the third straight season after earning semifinal wins in 2019 and 2020. It’s the first time one team has beaten the same foe in three straight CAA Tournaments since UNC Wilmington beat Charleston in the quarterfinals in 2015 and 2016 and the championship game in 2017. It’s also the first time Hofstra has beaten the same foe in three consecutive conference tournaments.
Jalen Ray’s career-high 34 points were the most scored in a CAA Tournament game since — and you will be surprised to see this — Justin Wright-Foreman scored a tournament record 42 points in the 78-74 overtime win over Delaware in the 2019 semifinals. He is the fifth Hofstra player with at least one 34-point game since Joe Mihalich arrived prior to the 2013-14 season. In addition to Wright-Foreman, Desure Buie had two games in which he scored at least 34 points and Eli Pemberton and the late great Zeke Upshaw had one apiece.
RAY’S CLIMB CONTINUES
Jalen Ray responded to not gaining any ground on the Hofstra all-time scoring list in the Dutchmen’s previous game Feb. 14 by racking up 34 points and leapfrogging THREE players Sunday, when he surged past Mike Tilley, Kenny Adeleke and former teammate Desure Buie to move into 18th place. He enters tonight needing 17 points to surpass Dave Bell for 17th place.
16.) Barry White 1,344
17.) Dave Bell 1,330
18.) JALEN RAY 1,314
19.) Desure Buie 1,310
20.) Kenny Adeleke 1,296
21.) Mike Tilley 1,286
22.) Roberto Gittens 1,240
23.) Carlos Rivera 1,225
24t.) Demetrius Dudley 1,220
24t.) John Mills 1,220
26t.) Juan’ya Green 1,186
26t.) Brian Bernardi 1,186
28.) Rokas Gustys 1,184
29.) Ted Jackson 1,159
30.) Nathaniel Lester 1,139
31.) Wandy Williams 1,132
32.) Mike Moore 1,128
33.) Richie Swartz 1,107
34.) Ameen Tanksley 1,090
35.) Derrick Flowers 1,069
36.) Darius Burton 1,060
37.) Percy Johnson 1,045
38.) James Shaffer, 1,022
39.) John Irving 1,018
Prior to Feb. 14, Ray had gained at least a half-spot on the all-time scoring list in every game since joining the 1,000-point club on Dec. 22.
Dec. 22: Tied for 38th place
Jan. 2: 38th place
Jan. 3: 37th place
Jan. 7: 36th place
Jan. 9: 35th place
Jan. 15: 34th place
Jan. 17: 33rd place
Jan. 23: 29th place
Jan. 24: Tied for 28th place
Jan. 30: 28th place
Jan. 31: 25th place
Feb. 6: 23rd place
Feb. 7: 22nd place
Feb. 13: 21st place
Feb. 14: 21st place
Mar. 7: 18th place
CALEB A BURGEONING STAR
Sophomore point guard Caleb Burgess almost joined some select company Sunday, when he finished with 11 points, nine rebounds and eight assists. The nine rebounds were a career-high for Burgess, who closer than any Hofstra player to a triple-double since Juan’ya Green recorded the only one in program history on Dec. 28, 2014, when Green had 15 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists against Long Island University. It was also the closest a player has come to a triple-double in the CAA Tournament since Mar. 12, 2019, when Northeastern’s Bolden Brace had 10 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists in the Huskies’ 82-74 win over Hofstra in the championship game.
Isaac Kante recorded his seventh double-double of the season Sunday, when he had 14 points and 13 rebounds. Kante had eight double-doubles last season.
THE FRESHMAN 200
Kvonn Cramer scored five points Sunday to increase his season total to 201 points. He is the 10th Hofstra freshman in the CAA era to score at least 200 points in his debut season as well as the first Hofstra freshman to score at least 100 points since Eli Pemberton scored 397 points in 2016-17.
1.) Antoine Agudio, 452 (2004-05)
2.) Charles Jenkins, 436 (2007-08)
3.) Kenny Adeleke, 433 (2001-02)
4.) Eli Pemberton, 297 (2016-17)
5.) Loren Stokes, 374 (2003-04)
6.) Chaz Williams, 325 (2009-10)
7.) Jamall Robinson, 312 (2013-14)
8.) Halil Kanacevic, 294 (2009-10)
9.) Carlos Rivera, 226 (2003-04)
10.) KVONN CRAMER, 201 (2020-21)
11.) Nathaniel Lester, 189 (2007-08)
12.) Shemiye McLendon, 178 (2010-11)
13.) Wendell Gibson, 153 (2001-02)
14.) Jordan Allen, 152 (2012-13)
15.) Chris Jenkins, 151 (2013-14)
16.) Rokas Gustys, 140 (2014-15)
17.) Mike Radziejewski, 138 (2001-02)
18.) Aurimas Kieza, 126 (2002-03)
19.) Woody Souffrant, 110 (2001-02)
20.) Moussa Kone, 100 (2011-12)
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 third straight season and the ninth time since joining the league prior to the 2001-02 season. Hofstra fell in the semifinals in 2002, 2005, 2011 and 2015, reached the title game before losing in 2006, 2016 and 2019 and, of course, won it all in 2020.
This is the Dutchmen’s 14th 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. This marks the first time the Dutchmen have made the conference semifinals in at least three straight seasons since the four-year run to end their America East tenure.
MIDNIGHT HASN’T STRUCK YET FOR CINDERELLA
For the second straight year, Elon threw the CAA Tournament into chaos with a big quarterfinal upset — this one the biggest the CAA’s seen in 30 years. The eighth-seeded Phoenix came back from a 15-point second-half deficit to stun top-seeded James Madison, 72-71. It was the first time the CAA’s top seed has lost its first tournament game since eighth-seeded Navy beat James Madison, 85-82, in overtime in 1991. In addition, it’s the first time the top seed I Hofstra’s conference tournament has lost its opener since 1994, when the fifth-seeded Dutchmen beat top-seeded Troy State, 90-89, in overtime in the ECC semifinals. That really happened, Litos!
Last season, Elon advanced to the semifinals as the seventh seed by beating 10th-seeded James Madison and second-seeded William & Mary before falling to Northeastern. The Phoenix are the first team in CAA history to make back-to-back trips to the semifinals while being seeded sixth or lower.
With second-seeded Northeastern and sixth-seeded Drexel also winning Sunday, the CAA semifinals will feature the second, fourth, sixth and eighth seeds for the first time ever. Someone should write a song about that! The sum of the seeds (20) is the highest in CAA history, breaking the previous mark of 19 set last year (first, fifth, sixth and seventh) and in 2002 (first, third, fifth and 10th).
The Phoenix, under second-year head coach Mike Schrage, made their second straight surprise trip to the semifinals with the aforementioned win over James Madison. It was the sixth straight win for Elon, which started out 0-7 in CAA play but is now 9-8 overall.
Because this is 2021, the Dutchmen and Phoenix didn’t play each other but had six common opponents in CAA regular season play. Both teams swept William & Mary while being swept by Northeastern and James Madison. Hofstra split with Delaware, which swept Elon. The Dutchmen also swept Towson and UNC Wilmington, whom Elon beat in their lone games against each team.
The Dutchmen, who were picked first in the CAA preseason poll, are ranked 176th at KenPom.com. The Phoenix, who were picked fifth, are ranked 217th.
According to KenPom.com, the Dutchmen rank first in the CAA in offensive efficiency (107.3) and seventh in defensive efficiency (107.0). The Phoenix are ninth in the CAA in offensive efficiency (97.4) and second in defensive efficiency (101.4).
Sophomore guard Hunter McIntosh, who was named to the all-CAA second team, leads Elon with 15.8 ppg while ranking second with 2.3 assists per game. Graduate transfer Ikenna Ndugba ranks second on the Phoenix with 9.4 ppg and 4.8 rebounds per game while averaging a team-high 2.9 apg. Sophomore guard Hunter Woods leads the Phoenix with 6.9 rpg while freshman Darius Buford, who was named to the all-rookie team, is averaging 8.7 ppg.
KenPom.com predicts a 72-69 win for the Dutchmen. Per the wise guys in Vegas, for entertainment purposes only, the Dutchmen are 3.5-point favorites. The Dutchmen are 10-12 against the spread this season.
ALL-TIME VS. ELON
Hofstra is 10-3 against Elon, which joined the CAA prior to the 2014-15 season. The Dutchmen have won the last five games against the Phoenix and swept the season series way back in the normal times of the 2019-20 regular season, when they earned a 102-75 win at home on Jan. 4 before hitting the road to record an 86-63 victory on Jan. 30. Hofstra and Elon first opposed each other on Nov. 23, 2009, when the Dutchmen cruised past the Phoenix, 70-46, in a preseason NIT game at the Arena.
THINGS YOU CAN SHOUT ON TWITTER IF CALLS GO DO NOT GO HOFSTRA’S WAY
Cheeky monkey bias! (I know I am not the only one who sees Elon forward Simon Wright and thinks of Mike Myers’ SNL skit “Simon”)
Not that Simon Wright bias! (There’s a hard rock drummer named Simon Wright)
Not that Christopher Knight bias! (Per Wikipedia, which is never wrong, YouTube personality Christopher Knight went to Elon)
Let’s play Galaga bias! (Because the classics never go out of style)