Sunday, February 12, 2017

Hofstra Pride 74 at Northeastern Huskies 64 (NCAA Basketball, CAA) - February 11, 2017

After watching the Vancouver Canucks lose to the Bruins on Saturday afternoon, I returned to Matthews Arena for a Northeastern Huskies basketball game. I wrote about the arena in the previous post, so won't go into any detail on its history here.

For basketball, tickets are only $10 and there are even fewer fans than at the hockey. The band no longer gets to sit in the upper deck, rather they stand behind one of the baskets.

The end zone seats are covered with tarp, though I can't imagine anyone wanting to sit there, with the court so far away.

The atmosphere is much better here for hockey, as is usually the case in a multi-purpose arena since there is a lot of space between the court and the seats. In professional arenas, that space is filled with seats; here it is left empty.

Northeastern used to play in the America East, but they are now part of the Colonial Athletic Association and have several regular season titles to their credit. They last made the tournament in 2015, losing to Notre Dame in their opening match.

That's all I have to say about Matthews Arena for basketball. If you haven't figured it out already, try to see a hockey game here instead.

The Game

Hofstra was in town to visit coming in with a 4-9 conference record, while Northeastern was 7-6. The two had met a few weeks prior on Long Island, with the Pride winning 78-73.

Hofstra is coached by Joe Mihalich, who is the sort of bench boss that drives me nuts. He's constantly lamenting the calls that go against his team and patrolling the sideline like he's a WWII general in the midst of a battle to decide the free world, instead of a mid-major basketball game. It's supposed to be fun for the players, not a chance for an old man to berate them for every mistake. The referees were regularly telling him to quiet down, but eventually even they had had enough and gave him a technical foul. That's him in the beige jacket below in a rare shot where he isn't whining.

Despite this annoyance, I was cheering for Hofstra as I too live on Long Island, though I wasn't as vocal in my support as the guy behind me, who assured the entire arena that the refs were biased against Hofstra when they T'd up Mihalich. If anything, they were far kinder to him than they should have been. Anyway, the game was actually quite an entertaining back-and-forth affair, with 12 lead changes and several ties, the last one coming with 4:39 to go when the Huskies Alex Murphy hit a jumper to tie things up at 60.

Over the next four minutes, however, Northeastern turned the ball over three times and missed all seven of their shots from the field, allowing Hofstra to take a 70-60 lead. The last minute was mostly fouls as the Pride earned a tough road win 74-64 in a match that lasted under 2 hours. You gotta love the mid-majors for their pace of play. Hofstra's Justin Wright-Foreman led all scorers with 25 points. Based on my extensive basketball acumen, it is safe to say neither of these teams are going to the tournament.

Next Up

I'm heading to North Carolina this weekend for some more college hoops, the first baseball game of 2017 for me (college), and the Leafs at the Hurricanes. Check back for all the news after that.



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