TRIBE 44, HOFSTRA 54
With 11:46 remaining in the second half, sophomore forward Marcus Kitts stepped to the free throw line for a chance to extend the College of William and Mary’s lead to two points — and shot an airball. The shot punctured a hole in the Tribe’s already tenuous hold on the game, and, over the next five minutes, the College’s chances for a win deflated.
Hofstra University’s Cornelius Vines, who had a team-high 15 points, hit a three-pointer to ignite a 13-0 Pride run, which put Hofstra ahead 41-29 with 6:59 left. Vines’ teammate Tony Dennison scored eight straight points during the stretch and finished with 10 points on the night.
“They had [those] two kids come off the bench that shot the ball exceptionally well, and that really hurt us tonight,” Head Coach Tony Shaver said on the Tribe Radio postgame show.
The Tribe (6-12, 1-7 CAA) responded with a quick 8-0 run of its own to cut the deficit to four, and had a chance to trim the lead to two or less on its next possession, but junior forward Danny Sumner’s jump shot did not fall. Hofstra reeled off nine unanswered points pushing its lead to 51-37 with 2:40 remaining in the game.
The Pride, which came into the game leading the CAA in rebounding, dominated the Tribe on the boards, out-rebounding the College by 16 and recording 12 second-chance points.
“The only thing that hurt us defensively during those key runs from them was through [second-chance] shots,” Shaver said. “Several of those rebounds led to two straight three-point plays for them, which were real keys in breaking that ball game open.”
The Tribe’s 29 percent shooting night – its worst performance from the field this season – did not help either.
“We really struggled to score the ball,” Shaver said. “I thought we got a lot of good looks tonight, particularly inside. They had one kid with seven blocks. What looked like layups turned into fastbreaks the other way sometimes.”
The College held a six-point lead late in the first half and led 17-15 at the break after freshman forward Quinn McDowell drained a three-pointer as time expired. It was the Tribe’s first halftime lead since its Dec. 31 win over Harvard University. But the College never established a working margin in the second half, and Hofstra hung around, staying within four points.
For the first time this season, junior guard David Schneider came off the bench; he responded with a game-high 18 points before fouling out. McDowell added eight points for the Tribe.
The College wraps up its three-game road trip Saturday when it travels to Drexel University for a 4 p.m. game.
What’s wrong with the Tribe?
2009 has been unkind to the Tribe. After a slow start, which saw the College accumulate five wins in its first 11 games, the Tribe has fallen into a tailspin to start the new year, losing six of seven games and dropping into a tie for last place in the CAA.
During that seven-game stretch, the Tribe stuggled with its offensive productivity and rebounding. Its scoring dropped, and its rebounding advantage disappeared, while the College’s top two players — juniors David Schneider and Danny Sumner — traded lackluster performances. Now the Tribe faces an uphill climb out of the CAA cellar.
Inconsistent star power
Sumner and Schneider are the Tribe’s go-to guys, but during the last seven games the duo has struggled, scoring in double figures in the same game just twice. Sumner’s torrid start to the season almost seems an aberration now. After averaging 18 points per game for the first 11 games of the season, Sumner has hit double figures in only four of his past eight games.
Scarce post production
The College’s experienced post players, namely senior Peter Stein and junior Alex Smith, have averaged a combined nine points per game in the past seven games. To be fair, Smith wears a shoulder brace each game, but such a poor post presence allows other teams to focus on the Tribe’s perimeter players. Other teams have clamped down on the College’s outside shooters, holding the Tribe to just 28.9 percent shooting from three-point range since Dec. 31.