Top seeded William & Mary outlasted Hofstra 92-91 in double-OT in the first semifinal game of the CAA Tournament. Down two points with 8 seconds left, Marcus Thornton rushed down the floor with his head up and vision clear. With time about to expire Thornton found Daniel Dixon in the corner for the biggest shot of Dixon’s career. As his three fell through the net and hit the floor, Royal Farms Arena nearly crumbled to the ground.
Thornton was beyond impressive, setting a new tournament record with 37 points, playing in all but one minute. Although, he was nearly outplayed by his own teammate Omar Prewitt, who scored 33 on an impressive 9-14 from the floor and 12-18 from the line.
There was never a doubt that the final play would be drawn up for Thornton, who drove and took two players with him allowing the open feed to Dixon for the three. Everyone in the building knew that it was Thornton’s to win or lose. Prewitt said, “Even if you know it’s coming you still can’t stop it, so they helped off on Marcus and left Daniel open and that was their mistake.”
The Pride battled and fought with everything they had with both teams fatigued, but playing off the energy of the best crowd in the 2 seasons of the CAA Tournament in Baltimore. On opposite sides of the Arena each fanbase willed their teams through each bucket, each dribble in the second overtime period.
Hofstra’s Juan’ya Green knocked down a huge three ball with 20 seconds left in the second overtime to give Hofstra a 90-89 lead. After a Thornton missed runner, Moussa Kone was fouled with nine seconds left, but hit just 1 of the 2 free throws. The rest is history, but seriously history. William & Mary is just one of five original D-1 schools to never make the NCAA Tournament (Citadel, Army, Northwestern, and St Francis-NY). Tomorrow they will get their shot against the winner of semifinal 2, Northeastern vs UNC Wilmington, to make their own history.
A key moment for Hofstra was in the first overtime when Dion Nesmith fouled out after a missed Pride jumper. Nesmith was virtually unstoppable for the 39 minutes he was on the floor, with 21 points on 9-16 shooting, always seeming to be the answer to a big shot by Thornton. With his absence, the Pride had to look elsewhere to knockdown big shots and their leading scorer, Green was the obvious choice. Green finished with 26, totaling four players with at least 20 points for the game.
Quite Simply, that was one of the best conference tournament games in the history of the CAA, if not the best.