by Beth Iskoe
Overall, the Colonial Athletic Association got off to a rough start this weekend, going 1-10 against some of the toughest competition in the country. However, while the league may have lost most of its games, its teams were generally not embarrassed, as eight of the ten losses were decided by less than ten points. In fact, most squads managed to stay close until the middle of the second half.
Close, but no cigar
Hofstra took on No. 22 Gonzaga Friday night and had the game tied 47-47 with 11:30 to play before the Zags finally went on a game breaking 9-0 run to secure their 69-61 victory. The win was Gonzaga’s 27th consecutive at home.
UNC Wilmington dropped their seventh straight opener by losing 85-76 Friday night on the road to Bobby’s Knight’s Texas Tech squad. Despite shooting 55.1% from the floor, converting eight-of-seventeen three-pointers and out-rebounding the Raiders 31-28, the Seahawks were not able to break through and pull out a victory.
Old Dominion hosted North Carolina before a sellout crowd of 8,424 in its new arena Sunday afternoon. Despite trailing only 56-51 with 5:58 remaining, the Monarchs could not overcome their shooting woes (29.2%), resulting in a 67-59 loss.
George Mason suffered two tough road defeats. On Friday night the Patriots fell 61-58 to Central Michigan, followed by Sunday afternoon’s 83-74 defeat at the hands of Southern Illinois. It is the third time in the past six years that George Mason has lost its first two games under the direction of head coach Jim Larranaga.
William and Mary lost two home games that were decided by a combined total of four points. First, the Tribe’s sophomore forward Thomas Viglianco missed a game-tying three-pointer as time expired in William and Mary’s 79-76 setback to Fordham Friday night. Senior center Adam Duggins’ game-winning shot hit off the back of the rim at the last second as William and Mary was defeated 64-63 Sunday afternoon by Radford.
Towson held a 69-59 lead over UMBC with 7:05 left in Saturday’s first round of the Battle of Baltimore. However, the Tigers were not able to hold their advantage and fell 86-81, marking the third year in a row that Towson has lost to the Retrievers in this tournament.
Better luck next time
Although Delaware only trailed by five points at halftime, they could not stay close in the second half and suffered a 73-56 opening night loss at LaSalle. The Hens’ record fell to 0-7 in season openers played in Philadelphia. Delaware was unable to take care of the ball, as they committed 26 turnovers, the team’s highest total since 1997 and the most since head coach David Henderson took over.
Drexel was within striking distance of Villanova at halftime Friday night, as they trailed 31-24. However, the Dragons only converted five-of-25 shots in the second half and were trounced by host Villanova 64-41.
The sole survivor
James Madison’s 68-66 squeaker over Furman Friday night was the only game that kept the entire conference from going winless during opening weekend. The win appeared to be a foregone conclusion when the Dukes took a commanding 40-18 lead during the first half. But, the Paladins fought back and pulled to within 53-50 with 9:02 remaining. James Madison was able to hold off Furman down the stretch to secure its first ever season opening road victory in its 34-year history.
Despite the losses, there were some individuals who stepped forward and produced stellar performances to start the season.
George Mason junior forward Mark Davis, a transfer from Palm Beach Community College, had two solid games. He poured in 22 points, and had five steals and six rebounds against Central Michigan, followed by 24 points, four steals and five rebounds against Southern Illinois.
Hofstra’s two sophomore guards helped keep the Pride close against Gonzaga. Kenny Adeleke contributed eighteen points and nine rebounds, and Woody Souffrant added fifteen points, seven assists and six rebounds.
The CAA preseason player of the year, UNC Wilmington senior guard Brett Blizzard, got off on the right foot by scoring 29 points, including four-of-seven from three-point range. Senior forward Craig Callahan also contributed 21 points and nine rebounds.
James Madison senior guard David Fanning scored seven of his team’s final nine points to round out a 22-point, four assist effort. Senior forward Ian Caskill was strong on the boards, pulling down eleven rebounds to go along with 21 points.
Towson received very strong performances from three of its starters. Senior guard Brian Allen turned in a career-high 25 points to accompany four rebounds and two assists. Sophomore center Derrick Goode also scored a career high, as he finished with seventeen points and eight rebounds. Texas A & M transfer and junior guard Jamaal Gilchrist added sixteen points and five rebounds.
George Mason paid the price for playing two extremely physical games. Junior guard Raoul Heinen required seven stitches after being hit in the mouth against Central Michigan, while senior forward Jesse Young got nine stitches after being elbowed in the eye against Southern Illinois and senior forward Jon Larranaga had to leave that contest with a bloody nose.
On the horizon
Saturday November 30
Towson at Georgetown – 1 pm
East Tennessee State at UNC Wilmington – 2 pm
Wagner at Virginia Commonwealth – 4 pm
Drexel at Monmouth – 7 pm
Lehigh at Hofstra (Holiday Tournament) – 7 pm
Mississippi at George Mason – 7 pm
William and Mary at East Carolina – 7 pm
James Madison at West Virginia – 7 pm
Sunday December 1
Quinnipiac or Texas-Pan American at Hofstra (Holiday Tournament) – 12 or 2 pm
Long Island at Delaware – 2 pm
Old Dominion at St. Joseph’s – 2 pm