By Joe Pantorno, Assistant Sports Editor
RICHMOND, VA.-- It was as stark of a contrast as night and day. After trailing by two points at halftime, the Hofstra University men's basketball team scored 47 points in the second half to blow out William & Mary 72-56 in the quarterfinals of the Colonial Athletic Association Championship.
Hofstra's offense was stagnant early, while William & Mary was shooting well, with the Tribe starting the game on a 9-0 run.
"We were just a little flat," said head coach Mo Cassara. "We weren't quite clicking on all cylinders. I think a part of that was having a week off, being in a big arena, we just got a little tight."
The Pride was not able to get its first basket until the 16 minute mark, a weaving lay-up from senior guard Charles Jenkins.
William & Mary began to scramble and Hofstra answered right back, going on an 11-0 run to put the Pride right back in the game with 11:37 left in the first.
Both teams went cold from the floor as traded baskets came few and far between.
Senior forward Greg Washington found himself in foul trouble yet again, as his second of the game with seven minutes left had him on the bench for the rest of the half.
William & Mary's perimeter game set the pace in the first half as the Tribe looked to junior guard Quinn McDowell to provide a scoring spark, attempting to follow the CAA Tournament record 35 points he had scored the night before.
Two foul shots from senior forward Marcus Kitts with 2.7 seconds left put the Tribe up 27-25 going into halftime. Jenkins was held to five points in the first half and senior guard Brad Kelleher led the Pride with six points at the break.
"I told the guys at halftime just to relax a little bit," said Cassara. "Our guys don't panic. I think that's an incredible tribute to them and our staff."
Hofstra only needed to chase the Tribe for a short while to start the second.
A three-pointer from junior guard Mike Moore and another ferocious drive to the hoop by Jenkins put Hofstra up 34-32 for its first lead since early in the first half.
The Pride's run continued as Kelleher and Jenkins handled most of the scoring load, putting Hofstra up 41-36.
"I don't think I was that aggressive in the first half," said Jenkins. "My shots just kind of rimmed out. In the second half, one of my freshmen, Paul Bilbo, just told me to relax and it kind of gave me more confidence and I came out in the second half and played better."
William & Mary head coach Tony Shaver was assessed a technical foul and two free throws from Jenkins made it 45-36 with 11:10 remaining in the game.
Despite the Tribe's efforts, Jenkins was catching fire and the Pride was doing a great job making its way to the free throw line and sinking shots.
"One of our keys tonight was to attack the basket and get to the free throw line," said Cassara. "We got a couple easy baskets and shot free throws very well and we were able to build up the lead a little bit."
The likes of junior forward David Imes and Washington, who stayed out of foul trouble in the second, controlled the boards.
Hofstra poured it on in the games last 13 minutes, extending its lead to 58-41 as the referees whistle eliminated all flow from the game.
The defense was working very well as a unit, shutting down the Tribe's threatening perimeter game, forcing turnovers and stifling McDowell, holding him to just six points.
"We changed defenses and we made somebody else beat us," said Cassara. "We had to force other guys to make shots."
The lead grew to 21 points with six minutes left in the game as Hofstra was moving the ball well on offense, firing on all cylinders.
The Pride put itself in a situation where it had nothing else to do but keep playing defense and run the clock out.
Jenkins finished with 20 points and Kelleher added 13.
Hofstra will face Old Dominion tomorrow at 2:30 P.M. in the CAA semi-finals.