By Angelo Brussich, Staff Writer
The conference leading Virginia Commonwealth (VCU) Rams (11-3) defeated the Hofstra Pride (6-8) 80-63 at the Mack Sports Complex Monday night. The loss snapped a three game winning-streak for Hofstra as it dropped its Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) record to 0-2.
VCU's full court press gave Hofstra problems the entire night. Where the Pride was successful in breaking the press in its last game against Iona, it failed doing so on Monday night to create any sustained offensive pressure. VCU's swarming provided Hofstra with difficulty getting separation.
"We weren't really efficient on offense," said Hofstra head coach Mo Cassara. "We weren't as aggressive as we needed to be."
Despite a quick start, Hofstra seemed to be outhustled as last year's Final Four participants were coming up with a majority of 50/50 balls as well as creating turnovers and defensive problems for Hofstra.
"They throw a lot of bodies at you, they just brought more effort than us" said senior guard Dwan McMillan.
McMillan, along with the entire team, was having a difficult time trying to create some sort of offensive attack for much of the game. He had five points, five assists and led the Pride with six turnovers as Hofstra lost the ball 21 times; 10 giveaways in the first and 11 in the second, which took the Pride right out of this game."
"Coming into the game [assistant] coach[Patrick] Sellers said that if we come into the postgame saying that we handled the pressure and didn't have as many turnovers as we had, we would have won this game," said senior guard Mike Moore. "That obviously wasn't the case."
Moore, who leads the CAA with 21.4 points per game (ppg), was held to 14 points and was a combined 4-14 from the field. This is only the fourth game this season that Moore has been kept below 20 plus points.
"They just brought the defensive pressure," said Moore. "I tweaked my groin in the Iona game, and it was just at the wrong time."
When Moore struggles, the team struggles as the senior has been Hofstra's leading scorer in 13 of the 14 games played this season.
"Teams are certainly going to can Mike," said Cassara. "I thought [senior forward] Nat [Lester] did a better job of being aggressive tonight, especially in the second half."
"We have to get more production from [junior forward] David [Imes], Nat, and certainly [sophomore guard] Shemiye [McClendon] and continue to share the ball."
Offensively for VCU, ball movement had Hofstra in disarray. Junior guard Troy Daniels of was the beneficiary of some of these offensive moves, allowing him to take open, uncontested three-point shots. Daniels led the Rams with 15 points, all of them coming from beyond the arc as he was 5-8 from three-point land.
"We lost him a few times [Daniels]" said Cassara, "We got a little over aggressive on defense…they do a great job of sharing the ball."
Hofstra junior guard Stevie Mejia, who has been hampered by a re-occurring hamstring problem, returned to record 11 minutes, but still looked very cautious in some of his movements. Hofstra has been short on the bench of late, with only seven scholarship players dressed to play.
"With the foul trouble and he [Mejia] was itching to go so we tried to get him a couple minutes" said Cassara "I went into the game not wanting to play him…I was hoping to try and buy him a couple more days and play him on the weekend."