In one of my blog postings on Wednesday, I noted that Hofstra might have a possible trap game last night against Towson and could be looking ahead to Saturday's game against UNC Wilmington. Well Gary Neal and Lawrence Hamm set the trap and Hofstra got caught in it, losing a high scoring game at Towson 94-91 in CAA men's basketball. The Tigers got out to an early 27-12 lead before Hofstra went 3 point crazy as the Pride went 8-11 from the 3 point arc in the first half to come back to take a 45-43 lead.
However Hofstra could not hold the lead as Towson went up by as many as nine points before Hofstra came back to tie it at 86-86 with 1:13 to play. However Neal scored 12 points in the last 2 minutes and nine seconds including four free throws to put Towson ahead to stay at 90-86. Loren Stokes cut the lead to 90-88 and Hofstra had chances to tie the game but only got as close to 92-91 on a three point feild goal by Auremis Kieza. Both Stokes and Carlos Rivera fouled out of the game for Hofstra.
Neal was the high scorer for the Tigers with 34. Lawrence Hamm had 22 for Towson. In their losing effort, Hofstra had two career highs as Antoine Agudio scored 29 points and Carlos Rivera also added a career high 25 points. Loren Stokes added 19 for the Pride. Auremius Kieza had a double double with 10 points and 10 rebounds.
Hofstra had a record 15 3 pointers on the night, shooting 15 of 27 from 3, however only shooting 42.9 percent from the field, shooting only 12 of 36 from the 2 point area.
Hofstra had two stats that doomed them. They were outrebounded 39-33 and more importantly, Hofstra had THIRTY SIX free throw opportunities, ten more than Towson. They only made TWENTY TWO of them, only four more than Towson, for a 60 percent clip. Kieza and Stokes were the big culprits, going 2 of 7 and 4 of 8 from the line respectively. The two big scorers must be better free throw shooters than that. This has been a problem for Hofstra for years and in a close game, you must have good free throw shooting. This was costly.
I also wondered where Gary Neal came from. This kid has been absolutely electric for Towson averaging over 28 points a game in only seven games for Towson. His first game was December 21 vs. VMI. Many of you might know where Neal came from. I should have but I forgot. Neal transferred from LaSalle. Neal was one of the players charged with rape against a female LaSalle basketball player. The scandal caused an upheaval at the LaSalle program. However, Neal was acquitted of those rape charges only several months ago. Neal transferred from LaSalle and moved back home and enrolled at Towson. He is a walk on to the Towson program. He had to be approved by a Towson University review board before be allowed to play on the Towson team (information courtesy of David Steele's Baltimore Sun article on December 22).
Neal was LaSalle's leading scorer as a freshman and sophomore, averaging 18.6 and 17.8 points a game respectively making all second team honors each year and A-10 rookie of the year as a freshman. So this is not really a surprise in some aspects. What is is Towson's 3-2 record in the CAA and this stunning win over a very good Hofstra team. Towson is no longer the doormat of the CAA and other things should take notice.
For Hofstra, they were without Adrian Uter for the third game due to a high ankle sprain. Hofstra had won their first two games without Uter, but his presence was sorely missed inside as shown by their being outrebounded. Also, the Hofstra frontcourt scored only 17 points, 10 of which by Kieza.
Uter will be most likely not playing against UNC Wilmington. Hofstra must somehow rebound against the physical Seahawks without their best post player.
Hofstra must now win at home or face being down in the CAA by two games in the loss column a third of the way through.