Just the Facts, Ma'am: A three-pointer off the glass and high off the back rim by Hofstra's Nicole Capurso gave the Pride a 69-66 win over the Towson Tigers. Shante Evans led all players with 29 points, 21 of those in the second half, and 20 rebounds. For Towson, Deree Fooks's 20 points led four Tigers in double figures.
For exhaustion, Hail Mary shots, nip-and-tuck, boors, history, and why basketball is amazing, join your intrepid and still dazed blogger after the jump.
Good afternoon, everyone! We're coming to you once more, because you just haven't had enough of us this week, on tape delay from the Mack Sports Complex on the grounds of Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York!
We had Hofstra and Towson circled in red on our schedule even before we knew it could be this good- Towson forward Sheree Ledbetter is a transfer from St. John's, and we wanted to see her off right. It helps that we like Hofstra and what Krista Kilburn-Steveskey is doing there, though it does present the awkward situation of not knowing who to root for beyond the obvious.
Hofstra's arena is one of my favorite medium-size arenas, though the passageways can get a little twisty. It's worth the three buses and the occasional dashes across traffic to get to. (The Hempstead Turnpike/Uniondale Avenue intersection is not very well handled by the lights. It also doesn't help when someone signals right and goes straight.)
Hofstra is wearing home pink, Towson road black. The pink socks do not go well with the taxicab yellow of some of the Tigers' sneakers. Trust me, guys, you can never go wrong with black.
We're wearing our St. John's gear, partially because we told Sheree we would, and partially because St. John's did notch a rather big win last night. Don't know if you heard about it.
Fairly good crowd this early, though I think a fair number of them are Bellocchios, judging from the #10s abounding among them.
We're right where I wanted to be, dead-red center, a few rows up, just to the Towson side of halfcourt. A good place to cheer both teams, assuming I don't choke to death on this damn cough I've had since St. Francis.
My thanks to Hofstra- and Columbia, belatedly, for open wireless- useful when the arena's too far underground or otherwise won't let me get a connection with my wireless.
Halftime, and we got us a game. It's 34-30 Towson, with big shots going back and forth, Candace Bond being answered by Tanisha McTiller. There's a lot of contact. It's a game that's being played like it means everything, and for two teams jostling for position in the CAA, maybe it does.
Hofstra's pink uniforms look good. They've got the color scheme for it, and they left out the yellow (which would clash horribly).
Balanced scoring for both teams- Fooks has 12 to lead Towson, Bond and Evans each with eight for Hofstra.
What a game. Holy Toledo Rockets, Batman, what a game and what a finish! Punch and counterpunch- almost literally, at one point, when Krystal Parnell and Candice Bellocchio almost got into it.
Excellent anthem by the Girl Scout chorus with the ceremonial unit. There was a lot of impressive fruit salad on display on those vests and sashes. I was a Girl Scout- I know what it takes to get a lot of those stars and badges.
Sheree Ledbetter was the reason we came in the first place, and she brought the infectious grin and energy that made us love her at St. John's. She played well defensively, though she's not going to have a lot of success defending the tank that is Shante Evans, and her passing has improved since her Red Storm days. I'm not sure what she was thinking with the foul with a minute left in a one-possession game, though. I have to admit, I wasn't expecting Baltimore's Ciara Webb to a) be pronounced Sierra, b) be copper-haired and porcelain-pale. Ah, to expectations. She did not make a lot of smart plays. Don't get fancy with the ball when you've got a ball hawk defending you. Nyree Williams played a lot off the bench, and I assume the only reason she's not starting right now has to do with that giant pink cast on her hand. I would not have had her in with four fouls late in the game- she could not play defense. Most sophomores don't know how to play tough D with four fouls. Destiny Shearin found herself playing more post than I think she was comfortable with.
Deree Fooks did work on the boards, and slithered herself into the paint for her shots. She was carrying Towson for fair parts of the game. Michelle Peebles started presumably because Nyree Williams wasn't for some reason- whether it was disciplinary or injury related or because Mathews likes having a threat off the bench, I can't judge properly. Krystal Parnell definitely runs her team- she has that kind of leadership and personality, but her court vision is shaky and so is her ballhandling. Not traits you want in a point guard. Krystin Fields did a nice job sneaking in for offensive rebounds and making plays in the paint. Tanisha McTiller got a beautiful and-1 in the first half, and I like her knack for making the right play at the right time.
Towson really needs an outside sniper, someone who can open things up from beyond the arc so teams can't pack it in against them.
Krista Kilburn Steveskey got a little too sub happy for my liking in the second half, blowing two timeouts to make subs. Deven Green played very briefly and proved why she shouldn't have been. Anma Onyeuku brought good defensive positioning. Andreana Thomas tried to be a spark off the bench, but I'm not sure that worked. She was trying a little too hard. Marie Malone came off the bench briefly to try and get some height in there.
But this was the starters' game, and maybe that's the Pride's Achilles heel. If they can't go deep into their bench without a significant dropoff, they're doomed. Candice Bellocchio's on-ball defense was tighter than spandex, but I might have liked it, and her, better if she hadn't been doing a lot of diving and running her mouth- and if her family hadn't been behaving boorishly in the stands. She made a lot of good plays. Katelyn Loper couldn't get her shot to fall most of the day, so she spent a lot of time as the offense/defense switch. Candace Bond made the right plays at the right time- she started the play of the first half with a baseline heaving save to Bellocchio, who set up Nicole Capurso for a three. Shante Evans ran amok in the second half, with 21 points and 15 rebounds- and as dominating as she was in that second half, she could probably have worked her way to 35 or 40 points if she didn't put the ball back down. Go up strong, Shante- you're a tank, own it. She worked Nyree Williams in the second half, especially late in the game.
And then there was Nicole Capurso, whose shot was off for most of the day, but who came up with the big shot at the end of the game. I don't know if she called glass and back rim, but it doesn't matter. That was one of the most amazing shots I've ever seen actually go down, and if I had any faith in ESPN to not be a bunch of misogynist brats, I'd suggest it as a Top Ten play, but if you can't get a game with two buzzer-beaters in over horse racing...
Sorry, I'll get off my soapbox.
Refereeing was... interesting. It looked like they were trying to get things back under control in the second half, but they took the calls to extremes- and then tried to balance them back out again. Fans, especially the Bellocchio contingent (identifiable by their #10 shirts, in case you thought I was stereotyping or assuming) were not pleased.
Hofstra honored their 1981-82 AIAW divisional championship team during the game, which was awesome. I love an appreciation of history.
Girl Scouts everywhere, and no cookies? Granted, the banner contest had as its prize the right to sell cookies at a future game, but unless they were down on the concession level, I am disappointed. MOAR THIN MINTS.
The crowd really got into the game late when it got close. And someone appears to have suggested that wiping one's crotch with one's t-shirt is not acceptable behavior when the arena is full of Girl Scouts. I also do hope that one of the Bellocchio contingent did not, in fact, call Janice Aliberti a dumb b*tch, because that is wrong and inappropriate on so many levels.
What a game. What a clutch win for Hofstra (which helps my Johnnies). What a heartbreaker for Towson.
This is why we watch. This is why we play. This is why we love the game.