Men’s Basketball: Tribe drops heartbreaker to Hofstra

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January 23, 2011

9:20 AM

Hofstra 67, William and Mary 64
William and Mary has a good men’s basketball team.

Their record does not reflect this. They make a lot of mistakes. They’re young. But even in a 67-64 defeat to Hofstra Saturday afternoon, the Tribe squad has a lot to be proud of.

“We’re a lot better than we were a month ago,” Shaver said. “The fact that we went toe-to-toe with the best team in the league is a great sign.”

Down by one with only 7.7 seconds remaining, the Tribe was one play away from heading into the locker room with their third straight conference win. Instead, freshman guard Brandon Britt tripped. In his effort to stay upright, he double dribbled, giving the ball back to Hofstra.

“It was a tough call,” Britt said.“I don’t think I double-dribbled, but they called it.”

Despite the disappointing conclusion, Britt had a career day with 24 points, three assists and five rebounds. He also shot 5-for-9 from beyond the arc.

“I thought Brandon played well at the point,” Shaver said. “He’s a great player. You want that type of confidence, that type of aggressiveness in a young player.”

The Tribe’s offense soared in the opening minutes of the first half, at one point holding a ten point lead over Hofstra. The Pride’s defense began playing tougher man-on basketball toward the end of the half, slowing down the College’s offense and allowing them to take the lead by the beginning of the second half.

“We knew they were going to come out in the zone, and switch up zone and man,” Britt said.
While William and Mary typically implements a perimeter offense, relying heavily on its shooters, Saturday’s matchup saw a disproportionate amount of above-the-rim heroics.

Sophomore forward Kyle Gaillard hit not one, but two loud alley-oops in the first half, sending the crowd into a frenzy.

“The first one was a drawn up play we run in zone defenses,” Gaillard said. “The second one, it kind of bobbled on the way down. It was kind of a high pass, I took my eye off it a little bit, but I was lucky it rattled in there.”

The Tribe scored 20 in the paint. Senior center Marcus Kitts put up nine points and pulled down seven rebounds.

Defensively, the Tribe forced Hofstra into low-percentage, bad look shots. The Pride shot only 38.5 percent from the field and 24 percent from beyond the arc.

Junior guard Kendrix Brown and sophomore guard Matt Rum came off the bench and played excellent defensive ball. Their steals accounted for four of the Pride’s eight turnovers.

“Matt Rum came off the bench and gave us some great minutes,” Shaver said. “And Ken Brown did a great job defensively.”

The difference-maker in Saturday’s game was at the foul line. The Tribe did not go to the line once in the entire second half. The Pride, meanwhile, converted 8 of its 9 attempts from the line on the half.

“The main reason we lost is because we didn’t go to the foul line in the second half,” Shaver said, “Everything was a foul on us.”

The Tribe’s best shooters also struggled. Junior forward JohnMark Ludwick was 1-for-6 and freshman guard Julian Boatner hit only one of two shots.

Despite their difficulties, the team has made great strides since the beginning of the season. The entire squad appeared more confident, passes were crisper and the College kept pace with one of the toughest teams in the CAA.

Coming off a pair of conference wins and a nailbiter against Hofstra, Shaver, Britt and Gaillard said that the team is stronger now.

“No matter what our record shows, we still think we’re a really good team,” Britt said. “Which we are.”

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