The faint echoes of past tournament glories, the ones seemingly awakened by junior forward Quinn McDowell Friday night, fell silent Saturday as the reality of the situation became clear there would be no magic this year.
After reaching the championship game two of the last four years, William and Mary (10-22) fell 72-56 to Hofstra Saturday night, ending its run in the CAA Tournament. Whereas in years past destiny or fortune had carried the Tribe come tournament time, Hofstra exposed the College Saturday as what is has been all season, a poor second half team.
“We just didn’t play well,” head coach Tony Shaver said. “I thought we played a solid first twenty minutes. The last twenty minutes really got away from us. I really thought their veteran leadership and their maturity showed a lot in those last twenty minutes.”
Senior center Marcus Kitts led the Tribe with 10 points to go along with eight rebounds. McDowell, who set a CAA Tournament record with 35 points Friday night, finished with only six points on 2-6 shooting.
Not that the sophomore’s performance versus James Madison Friday went unnoticed.
Where the Dukes left McDowell room to shoot, often against a smaller defender, the Pride crowded the Tribe’s leading scorer on every possession, rotating its zone defense towards McDowell’s side of the floor and running two defenders at him when he caught the ball.
“Going into the game, we were going to try and make somebody else beat us,” Hofstra head coach Mo Cassara said. “I thought once the game got going and we got into the flow of things, we kept the ball out of his hands, we moved guys around on him and we changed defenses, and I think that kept him off balance.”
The Pride held McDowell to one point in the second half, often daring the College to find a way to score inside. But the Tribe’s most potent inside threats this season, Kitts and freshman point guard Brandon Britt, could not exploit the Pride’s zone.
Kitts went 2-5 from the field in the second half, missing a couple of shots at point blank range, while Britt was held scoreless in the second half, as the Hofstra defense cut off his dribble penetration.
As the College’s offense cooled down, the Pride’s heated up thanks to CAA Player of the Year Charles Jenkins. Jenkins, who led all scorers with 20 points on the night, scored 15 points in the second half, eight of those coming on free-throw attempts.
“We did a really good job the first half,” Shaver said. “But when he just puts his head down he is so strong, he has an NBA body, and when the whistle blows as it did tonight, he gets every foul call. He’ll go to the foul line all night.”
Despite trailing 27-25 at the half, Hofstra outscored the College 47-29 in the second half thanks to Jenkins. And by the time little-used freshman center Fred Heldring came into the ballgame for Kitts with 2:16 remaining, it was clear that the game, as well as Kitt’s career, had come to an end.
“That’s certainly not the way I wanted it to end,” Kitts said. “But I’ve really enjoyed my time here. I thought the first half we really stuck with them. The free throws at the end of the half, I thought that would give us some confidence coming out. But that’s a really good team. Hofstra’s got the best player in the league.”