Tribe season comes to end with blowout loss to Hofstra


Sunday, March 5, William and Mary (13-20, 7-11 CAA) suffered a blowout loss to Hofstra (24-8, 16-2 CAA) 94-46, ending its season in the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) tournament quarterfinals at the Entertainment and Sports Arena in Washington, D.C.

The Tribe entered the CAA tournament with momentum from the regular season with back-to-back double-digit wins against Elon on Feb. 23 and Monmouth on Feb. 25. Despite falling short in tight games multiple times this season, the Tribe made sure to close out against Monmouth with conference tournament seeding on the line. With its win against Monmouth, the Tribe clinched the No. 8 seed and bypassed the play-in round. This marks the 10th time the Tribe has been the No. 8 seed and the second straight season.

The Tribe opened its CAA tournament run in Saturday’s second round against No. 9 Elon. That game marked the fourth time in Elon’s nine years in the CAA that the two teams have met in the conference championship tournament, with the Tribe leading the matchup history 2-1 in the postseason.

William and Mary picked up right where it left off in the regular season, putting on a shooting and defensive clinic against Elon. The Tribe converted a school tournament record 14 three-pointers, spearheaded by senior guard Miguel Ayesa’s stellar performance from beyond the arc. Ayesa connected on seven of 14 shots from three, setting a program record for three-pointers in a CAA tournament game and falling one short of the overall tournament mark. He finished with a career-high of 23 points.

The Tribe also relied on its stellar defense, limiting Elon to only 51 points, the second-best defensive performance for a Tribe in CAA tournament history. Graduate student guard Chris Mullins shined on defense, guarding Elon’s CAA Rookie of the Year Max Mackinnon to a season-low two points on one of four shooting.

Coalescing its superb shooting and hard-nosed defense, the Tribe handily defeated Elon, 73-51. The 22-point margin of victory was the largest in Tribe history in a CAA tournament game, and moved the Tribe onto the quarterfinals in a bout against No. 1 seed Hofstra.

In its history, the Tribe has only defeated a No. 1 seed once in a 56-54 win over Virginia Commonwealth in the 2008 semifinals. The Tribe last played a No. 1 seed in 2018 in a semi finals matchup against Charleston.

This year, Hofstra was the regular-season champion, and to the Tribe’s dismay, the No. 1 seed played like it on Sunday. The Tribe were unable to stop Hofstra’s highly-efficient shooting, which overcame the Tribe’s defense with ease.

Hofstra started the first half on an 18-2 run, holding the Tribe to only two points in the first five minutes of the half. Hofstra’s scoring contributions varied with multiple players recording points.

Hofstra converted nine of its first 12 shots, shooting 65% in the first half on five of nine shots from outside the perimeter. Most impressively, Hofstra only turned the ball over one time in the first half. The Tribe continued to be unsuccessful on offense, only managing to put up 14 points in the first half in comparison to Hofstra’s 51.

“Obviously, it’s never fun to start a game down 20-4, I think we can all say that,” graduate student guard Anders Nelson said. “Not a spot you want to find yourself in, especially in the playoffs.”

Coming out of the locker room, the Tribe found some success offensively from Ayesa and Nelson. Despite some of its shots falling, the second half was more of the same domination by Hofstra on both sides of the court. According to head coach Dane Fischer, it was easier for his team to get good looks against Elon’s zone defense as opposed to Hofstra’s defense.

“We certainly didn’t get the same quality of looks as we got yesterday,” Fischer said. “When you’re playing against a zone, you’re going to get more open looks from 3. Hofstra did a great job today of limiting those opportunities.”

Hofstra outscored the Tribe 43-32 in the second half in a dominating win that resulted in a 94-46 scoreline. Hofstra shot a superior 59% from the field and connected on 13 of 19 shots from behind the arc. Hofstra held the Tribe to its lowest point total of the season.

“We just couldn’t get into a rhythm offensively, and a lot of that had to do with the way they played,” Fischer said. “I was really proud of the way our team stuck together and battled in that second half on a day where we clearly weren’t playing as well as we needed to and as we’re capable of.”

Sunday’s loss signified the end of an impressive late-season run from the Tribe, winning three consecutive games by double digits. Nelson led the Tribe in points with 15 on six of 10 shooting. The entire team struggled shooting from beyond the arc, only converting six of 25 three pointers.

Although this blowout loss ended the Tribe’s season, there remains a lot to celebrate for this team. Mainly, the team’s graduating class of players Ayesa, junior forward Ben Wight, Mullins and Nelson. 

“This has been a really, really fun group to coach, and you want to win this one for a variety of reasons,” Fischer said. “One of them was to get to coach these guys one more day. I’m really proud of this group.”

The Tribe will look to restart next school year and relish the opportunity to compete for the CAA championship once again.


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