Pride Comes Before the Upsets (2020 CAA Tournament Quarterfinals)

Yusuf Abdullah/ALOST

akoiki-passport2 – by Adesina O. Koiki
A Lot of Sports Talk editor-in-chief


WASHINGTON — On Sunday afternoon, the high-scoring backcourt duo of the top-seeded Hofstra Pride allowed them to avoid being on the receiving end of a surprising defeat during the Colonial Athletic Association Tournament quarterfinals.

The other top seeds in the tournament were not so fortunate during the evening session.

Eli Pemberton and Desure Buie combined for 33 points as the Pride overcame a slow start and took control early in the second half to defe the eighth-seeded Drexel Dragons 61-43 to advance to semifinals of the CAA Tournament on Monday evening. Along with their scoring, Pemberton added 12 rebounds for his third double-double of the season while Buie chipped in with eight assists.

Both teams shot under 40 percent in the first half, with the Pride clinging to a 25-22 lead at intermission, but Pemberton scored the first seven points of the second half — a three-pointer and two layups — to give Hofstra a 32-22 lead. The Pride’s lead did not fall below seven points for the rest of the contest.

Hofstra made 53 percent of their shots in the second half (16-of-30), and its stifling defense held the Dragons to just 18-of-56 shooting overall (32 percent). 

Zach Walton led Drexel with 17 points and 10 rebounds off the bench, while James Butler also had a double-double with 14 points and 14 rebounds.

The Pride will take on No. 5 seed Delaware, who was buoyed by its fans making the short drive from its campus and delivered a 79-69 victory over fourth-seeded Charleston in the second game of the quarterfinals afternoon session. Junior guard Nate Darling had a team-high 25 points as the Blue Hens snapped a nine-game losing streak to the Cougars, dating all the way back to 2016.

The Blue Hens were lights out from the three-point line, making 8-of-16 from beyond the arc, with Darling making five of his eight attempts from behind the arc. Forward Justyn Mutts, controlled the inside for the Blue Hens, scoring 12 points and grabbing 11 rebounds.

Three-time All-CAA First Team selection Grant Riller scored 26 points in his final game in conference play as a collegian, while backcourt mate Brevin Galloway scored 14 points. 

Though Charleston committed just 11 turnovers in the game, the Blue Hens converted them into 21 points, and Delaware outscored the Cougars 36-24 in the paint.

The evening session saw two surprises, including No. 7 seed Elon taking out the No. 2 seed, William & Mary, 68-63, to advance to the Phoenix’s first-ever CAA Tournament semifinal. The win also marked the first time the No. 7 seed defeated the No. 2 seed in this tournament since 2004.

Much of the attention before the game squarely focused on 2020 CAA Player of the Year Nathan Knight, as the senior recorded his 23rd double-double of the season with 24 points and 10 rebounds. But he was overshadowed in the paint by freshman Hunter Woods, who was his equal on the stat sheet with 20 points and a career-high 15 rebounds.

Woods also knocked down five three-pointers as the Phoenix used 13 threes, including two during a 13-2 run to open the game, to build a lead that they never relinquished.

In the finale on Sunday, the defending champions of the CAA Tournament, sixth-seeded Northeastern, made its intentions known that they would not relinquish their crown without a fight in their 72-62 victory over No. 3 Towson. As is what can almost be described as a rite of passage, the Huskies advanced to the semifinals of the tournament for the sixth time in seven years.

*Editor’s note: Above the byline is the photo gallery from Saturday’s games, with all photos taken by DC-area photographer Yusuf Abdullah. After clicking on the first photo to enlarge the picture, make sure to press the left and right arrow buttons to scroll through the rest of the pictures. There are 14 pictures in total.

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