The CAA Semifinals last year featured two great games and 2016 had the same type of atmosphere…it even included the same four teams.
Hofstra and William & Mary played in one of the best games of the 2015 season, W&M knocking off Hofstra after Daniel Dixon go-ahead three pointer. Hofstra came into this rematch a year later, as the #1 seed and had revenge on their mind.
Juan’ya Green and Ameen Tanksley combined for 37 points in Hofstra’s 70-67 victory over William & Mary. Both players didn’t play their best game even though they got the win. Green - the 2015-16 CAA Player of the year - struggled in the first half shooting 1-5 from the field with two turnovers. Green was also on the wrong end of a highlight reel when Greg Malinowki made him stumble with a smooth crossover-stepback three pointer, that gave the Tribe crazy momentum to go into halftime with 34-30 lead.
Green would eliminate that play from everyone’s memory when he made the biggest play of the game, diming Denton Koon for the go-ahead layup.
“Lets get it out the way now, we thought about this game for 364 days,” Joe Mihalich, head coach of Hofstra, said about the rematch. “We thought about that loss for a year and I’m glad we got a chance to make up for it.”
“We should have loss that game today but it’s because of these guy I’m sitting next to [Green and Tanksley] and the other guys in white shirts.”
Hofstra in the first half struggled to stop the William & Mary due to the ball movement. The Tribe shot 48% from the field and 44% from the three point line. Malinowski led the Tribe with 22 points, shooting 5-8 from behind the arc, 3-4 in the first half.
Hofstra also seen their big man, Rokas Gustys, have a very tough game inside the paint, picking up his fourth foul at the 8-minute media timeout, with only two points. That turned out to be a blessing for The Pride because it forced them to play small ball which helped them defensively.
Desure Buie only played 15 minutes but his presence on the court helped the Pride on their rotation to nulify the Tribe’s steady ball movement. Buie, standing only 6’2, was able to be that scrappy defender that caused disruption in the Tribe’s fast pace Princeton offense.
William & Mary’s star player, Omar Prewitt, had his worst shooting performance of the season, going 1-12 from the field finishing with 5 points. For Prewitt this is the third time he has been eliminated from the conference tournament, losing in the championship game in his freshman and sophomore season. With DIxon and Malinowski - who had his best game of his career - returning, the Tribe will once again be one of the top contenders next season. The question is will they be able to get over the hump?
Hofstra will make their first appearance in the championship game since 2006 and look to claim their first conference title since joining the CAA in 2001.