There was serious question before the start of yesterday's game whether or not Coach Tom Pecora would sit several of his Hofstra Pride starters for yesterday's bracket buster game against Siena. He openly speculated to Newsday after Hofstra's loss to UNC Wilmington that he might sit Aurimas Kieza, Loren Stokes and Carlos Rivera to save them for their 3 games in 6 days stretch this upcoming week.
Pecora answered the speculation by starting all his regulars yesterday and early on, it seemed like it would be a blow out. Hofstra stormed out to a 14-6 lead and led 22-15 when suddenly Siena ran off a 23-8 spurt and was up 38-30. Hofstra would score the last four points in the half to trail 38-34 at halftime.
Hofstra came out in the second half with a quick spurt to go ahead but Siena tied it up. Then in one of the most bizarre moments I've seen in a long time, during a timeout, Siena coach Fran McCaffrey was called for a technical, then completely lost it as he went after the referee. As the Saints' assistant coaches tried to restrain him, he got his second technical and was tossed from the game (even more bizarre, his wife got tossed out later for yelling at the referees - I didn't see it, so it must have come at the end of the game because I had to leave with 2 minutes left). Antoine Agudio hit 3 of the 4 technical free throws and Hofstra never looked back winning 76-62.
The key factor was Hofstra's center Adrian Uter who scored 16 of his career high 27 points in the second half. Siena had no answer for the senior center who only started playing basketball in high school. Uter also had 4 blocks to go with his career high point total. Agudio added 19 and Greg Johnson gave Carlos Rivera much needed rest with 9 points in 25 minutes of play.
Hofstra now plays a big game in the CAA at William and Mary tomorrow night. Third Place Hofstra needs to win its two out of next three games to clinch a bye in the first round of the CAA tournament. As Coach Pecora stated to Newsday's Tom Rock, "If you don't realize how big that game is Monday night, you're just stupid, and I don't think we have anybody that dumb on our team."
You get the feeling, the Pride will be ready to play tomorrow night.