Once again I gotta give credit to the Colonial Athletic Conference for bringing their tournament to the city of Baltimore.
With 4 teams remaining, and 1 games left, the pressure and madness increases.
William & Mary vs. Hofstra turned out to be one the greatness I ever witnessed live in action.
It had everything one would want out of a classic basketball game. You had the underdog in Hofstra, who was playing with a chip on their shoulder, losing to W&M twice this season; and you had the heavily-favorite W&M squad forced to make something happen with their back against the wall.
William & Mary started the game with a 19-9 run, Marcus Thornton, who had a career day with 37 points (CAA Tournament record), scoring 5 of the Tribe's first 9 points.
It look like the Tribe would walk away with this one, but then they would go 1-6 on their next 7 shots while the Pride took the lead with a 13-2 run. By the end of the 1st half, Hofstra had a 35-32 lead but Marcus Thornton and Omar Prewitt combined for 25 points.
Some great individual numbers were posted in this game.
Juan'ya Green led the Pride with 26, shooting 50% from the field and was 4-9 from behind the arc. I was very impressed with the junior from Philadelphia, mainly because he didn't back down from the best player in the conference. When Marcus would make a play, Juan'ya would come back with one of his own.
Just off the top of my head, I'm picking Juan'ya to win the conference player of the year award.
Senior guard Dion Nesmith scored 21 but fouled out in the first overtime period.
In the second half, the Pride was up 68-59 with 5 minutes remaining, thanks to 3 straight three pointers, two of which coming from Brian Bernardi. Bernardi scored all of his 17 points in the 2nd half and overtime periods, and was the main reason why the Pride almost won this game.
W&M would go on a 9-2 run, Omar Prewitt being the main contributor for the run, not only by scoring 6 of the 9, but also hitting the boards heavy.
Bernardi hit another three to extend the lead to five with 1:41 left but the Tribe finished the period with a 5-0 run provided by Marcus Thornton, sending it into overtime. Free throws is what killed W&M, going 19-34 in the 2nd half and overtime periods.
It's hard to really explain how good this game was. There were a total of 18 lead changes in the final 30 minutes of the game. 4 players scored 20+ and the crowd was the best it been all tournament, not to mention Dixon's game winning shot.
W&M will now try to get the bad taste from last year's final out of their mouth tomorrow night at 7pm against Northeastern.