What makes for a really really interesting college basketball game?
1) Two equally matched top conference teams - Check
2) Televised Game (ok locally in NY and Philly for most part) - Check
3) A raucous home crowd egged on by one particular person (this case the opposing team's coach)
4) Prolific Scoring, with one player getting his 2000th point in the game - Check
5) Lots of Fouls (with important players fouling out) and Non Fouls - Check
6) An animated coach who gets a T and the crowd riled up - Check
7) Lots of swings in the game - Check
8) A huge comeback - check
9) An overtime game - Check
10) And finally a somewhat controversial game - based on #5 and #6 - Check
You had that and more last night in CAA action in Hempstead New York as second place Hofstra took on fourth place Drexel. The Dragons down by as many as 14 points and down 10 with 9:32 left in the game, came back, forced overtime and won in the extra session, defeating the Pride 95-87.
Hofstra went out to 34-20 lead in the first half with 5:32 left as Stokes and Agudio leading the way. Drexel cut it to eight, mainly behind Frank Elegar and Dominick Mejia, before a foul on Drexel combined with a technical on Flint allowed Carlos Rivera to score the final three points from the foul line to give the Pride an eleven point lead at half time.
Early in the second half, the momentum stayed with Hofstra as Bashir Mason quickly picked up his third and fourth fouls to join Chaz Crawford in foul trouble and the Pride pulled out to again a 14 point lead, 51-37 with 16:54 left. The Dragons went on a 10-2 run to cut it to 53-49 as Mejia scored 8 of the 10 points on that run. Crawford and Mejia then picked up their fourth fouls and with them on the bench, again Hofstra pulled out to an 11 point lead, 63-52 with 9:32 left and it looked like Drexel might be done for the night. However, with four fouls, Mason went to work, scoring 10 points over the next three and a half minutes to cut the lead to 68-65 with 5:49 left. Mason then fouled out, but with Hofstra up five, Mejia who came back in to replace Mason, and Elegar brought Drexel back and after two free throws by Scott Rodgers, the game was tied at 71 with 3:44 left.
Hofstra would then score the next four points and go up 75-71. But during this time, Carlos Rivera fouled out for the Pride which would turnout to be a huge loss come overtime. And with a chance to put Hofstra up by four again, Loren Stokes would miss one of two free throws (a common theme in the second half for the pride as they only made 15 of 22 free throws in the second half) and Drexel was down only three 76-73 with 1:38 left. The missed free throw would prove costly as Tramayne Hawthorne hit a three with 51 seconds left to tie the game. Stokes setup Mike Davis Sabb for a layup and Hofstra went up by two but Mejia hit a huge jumper with less than 2 seconds left to force overtime.
The overtime saw Drexel pull out to stay as Frank Elegar went to work, scoring four of the first five points as the Dragons went up 83-78. Hofstra cut it to two, 83-81 on free throws by Agudio (who was held to only 3 points in the second half all on free throws) and Mike Davis Sabb (but again Sabb only hit one of two free throws). The lead was three 86-83 with 47 seconds left when Agudio missed a jumper and Stokes committed his fifth foul. The air seemed to deflate out of the Mack Arena after Stokes fouled out, with the Hofstra student section very dejected. Drexel would then outscore Hofstra 9-4 the rest of the way on free throws and Drexel evened the series with Hofstra on the year.
It was the third out of the last four Hofstra -Drexel games that went into overtime. Hofstra had won earlier in the year in Philly in overtime. The teams shot a lot better last night than the first game. Drexel shot 50 percent for the game and Hofstra shot 43 percent. The 14 missed free throws for Hofstra (30 of 44) proved costly. But give the Dragons credit for showing a lot of heart when they could have packed it in early in the second half after Mason picked up his fourth foul.
With the win Drexel improves to 18-6 and 10-4 in the CAA, while Hofstra is now 18-7 and 11-3 in the CAA. Both teams got help as far as potential first round byes when George Mason lost to VCU and fell to 7-7 in conference with 4 games left to play for all teams in the conference.
As for the Hofstra - Drexel game, it might have been the worst officiated game I have ever seen. The officials truly lost control of the game in the second half. Bruiser Flint (who of course received a technical foul in the first half) was consistenly on the court in the second half. Lots of fouls called, but some that were not, including one where Loren Stokes was literally thrown (chucked might be a better word) out of bounds by the Hofstra student section causing the students to go into an uproar. Six players fouled out for both teams (Rivera, Chris Gadley and Stokes for Hofstra; Mason, Crawford and Elegar for Drexel). I think the CAA should take a close look at the replay of this game. It was not one to use as a training film for officiating.