Men’s basketball: Tribe falls to Hofstra in triple-OT nail-biter, 93-90

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Courtesy image / TRIBE ATHLETICS

Two weeks ago, William and Mary opened Colonial Athletic Association play with two wins at home against James Madison and Towson. After going 1-1 on the road last week, the Tribe returned to Kaplan Arena Thursday night to host CAA-leading Hofstra. Similar to last season, the College had gotten off to a quick start in conference play, posting a 3-1 record in its first four conference games and going 5-2 in its last seven games after a 2-7 start to the season. However, the matchup against the Pride was the Tribe’s first test in the CAA. The Pride entered the game 3-0 in conference, led by the preseason CAA player of the year, guard Justin Wright-Foreman. The Pride stayed unbeaten last Saturday by edging preseason favorite Northeastern on the strength of Wright-Foreman’s 42 points and game-winning three-pointer at the buzzer. Last season, the College and the Pride split the season series by each winning at home in close games. Jan. 11, the Tribe (7-10, 3-2 CAA) fell 93-90 in a hard-fought, triple overtime game against the Pride (14-3, 4-0 CAA).

The Tribe got back-to-back stops to open the game, and freshman guard Chase Audige tallied the first six points of the game to propel the College to a 6-0 advantage after 75 seconds. The Pride finally got on the board at the 17:41 mark, but the Tribe still led 8-2 at the under-16 media timeout. Wright-Foreman scored his first points of the night out of the timeout, but junior guard Justin Pierce answered back with the Tribe’s second three-pointer of the game. However, the Pride scored the next six points to cut the deficit to one before Pierce scored again to make the score 13-10. The Tribe reestablished its three-point edge on a layup from junior forward Nathan Knight. Knight had been scoreless for nearly 10 minutes to open the game.

Wright-Foreman tied the game for the first time with just over nine minutes to play in the first half. He drained his first three of the night, evening the score at 19. Nevertheless, Knight found a cutting Audige, and he laid it in to bump the Tribe back into the lead, 21-19. The Tribe committed its seventh foul out of the under-eight timeout to put the hot-shooting Pride into the bonus. The Pride clawed its way back to tie it at 23, but once again the Tribe had the answer on a three-pointer from Pierce to put the College up 26-23. The Pride was finally able to take its first lead with just over four minutes before halftime on a three-pointer by forward Eli Pemberton. In the last few minutes of the half, the Pride stretched its lead to 10 points. The College struggled on the offensive end down the stretch of the first half. The Pride ended the half on a 15-2 run; Wright-Foreman had 15 points to give Hofstra a 38-28 advantage at the break.

Wright-Foreman picked up where he left off to start the second half, with a jumper on the Pride’s first possession to push the score to 40-28. The Tribe finally got back within single-digits at the 18-minute mark on a three-pointer from the corner by redshirt junior guard Matt Milon. Knight also had six quick points in the second half to help the College claw within five, 43-38. Milon continued the run with another three-pointer to cut the deficit to two before the Pride stopped the bleeding with a dunk. Nevertheless, Milon stayed red hot and hit another three to make it 45-44 with 15 minutes remaining. The Pride was able to prevent the College from seizing the lead momentarily, but sophomore guard Luke Loewe put the Tribe back on top for the first time in the second half at the 13:32 mark, 49-48. Guard Jalen Ray gave the Pride its lead back on his second four-point play of the game after a Hofstra timeout.

Despite struggling to retake the lead, the Tribe kept the score within three points with eight minutes to go in the contest. Then, Knight was able to score to cut the lead to one point again, 59-58. After Wright-Foreman missed a three, Pierce drained one at the other end to put the College on top, 61-59 with seven minutes to play. However, Wright-Foreman hit just his second shot of the second half to even the score at 61 with just over five minutes remaining.

On the next possession, Ray continued the back-and-forth trend of the second half, once again giving the Pride the lead. After the final media timeout, Knight hit a pair of free throws to tie the score at 63, but the Pride scored the next six points, benefitting from a costly Tribe turnover. Knight cut the deficit in half with a three-point play on the ensuing possession and the College came up with a stop at the other end. Two minutes later, Milon knotted the score at 69 with 32 seconds left on his fourth three-pointer of the half.

Wright-Foreman had a chance for his second-straight game-winning shot, but he missed and the Tribe got the ball back with 3.5 seconds remaining. Pierce had a chance to win the game, but his last-second running three bounced off the backboard and the game went to overtime tied at 69.

The College won the opening tip in overtime, but Pierce came up empty at the free throw line. The Pride also failed to convert on its first possession, and Pierce scored the first points in overtime to put the Tribe up, 72-69. At the 2:51 mark, Wright-Foreman made a floater to pull the Pride within one. He scored again on the next possession to give the Pride its first lead of the extra period. The College’s offense struggled in overtime, but it still only trailed 73-72 with one minute remaining. The Tribe got the ball back with 20 seconds to play with a chance to win the game, but Milon’s pass to Pierce sailed out of bounds and the College was forced to foul and extend the game. Wright-Foreman made a pair to put the Pride up 75-72, but Knight hit a miraculous three-pointer at the buzzer to send the game to a second overtime.

Once again, the Tribe won the opening tip in double overtime, but could not take advantage of an offensive rebound that extended the opening possession. Wright-Foreman made the College pay with a three on the ensuing possession. The College continued to struggle on offense in double overtime, but still trailed by just three with 90 seconds remaining. Knight scored his 25th point to bring the Tribe within one, 80-79 with a minute left. Wright-Foreman answered with two more at the other end. Nevertheless, the College fought back again with Knight converting a three-point play with 16 seconds remaining and coming up with a clutch rebound in the waning seconds to send the game to triple overtime.

The Pride scored first in triple overtime to claim an 84-82 advantage, but freshman guard LJ Owens answered back to tie the score again with less than three minutes to go. Wright-Foreman and Knight traded baskets to keep the score even. Pemberton had a chance to give Hofstra the lead at the foul line, but missed a pair, whereas Knight took advantage of his trip to the charity stripe by making one of two to put the Tribe up one with 56 seconds left. However, Ray nailed a three to give the Pride an 89-87 edge and Hofstra used four free throws to seal a 93-90 victory over the College.

The Pride was led by Wright-Foreman’s 37 points. The Tribe was led by Knight’s 31 points, 10 rebounds and five assists. Pierce and Milon added 24 and 12 points, respectively. The College looked to bounce back from the heartbreaking defeat when it welcomed Northeastern to Kaplan Arena Saturday afternoon.