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All higher seeds advance on day two of the CAA Championship

Washington D.C.- On day one of this year's tournament, we learned that anything can happen. The thirteenth-seeded William & Mary Tribe comfortably defeated the twelfth-seeded North Carolina A&T Aggies and the fourteenth-seeded Hampton Pirates narrowly defeated the eleventh-seeded Elon Phoenix. So far, the lowest-seeded teams have won. That told us on day one that we were for a great tournament and day two did not disappoint either.


Game 3: No. 8 Monmouth defeats No. 9 Campbell 90-67


Monmouth men's basketball player Abdi Bashir Jr inbounding the ball defended by Campbell men's basketball's Elijah Walsh

The last time these two teams played was in West Long Branch, New Jersey where the Hawk won 88-87 on an insane buzzer-beater from just inside half-court by Xander Rice. He finished that game with a career-high 37 points. The second time around Campbell executed a game plan to make the rest of Monmouth beat them, and that they did.


The Fighting Camels jumped out to a 17-8 lead at the 13:56 mark of the first half but the Hawks got hot in the final two frames to get control of the contest. Monmouth led at half 46-31 despite Xander only having 2 points, which came from two free throws. The Camels got strong contributions from Anthony Dell’Orso and Jasin Sinani, just as they have gotten since conference play began. They had 23 and 21 points, respectively. In the second half, Nikita Konstantynovskyi led the way for Monmouth in scoring with 11 and Xander Rice put up 10. Monmouth won this game because of a total team effort. Six players finished in double-figures and they were engaged with full effort for the entire forty minutes.


Looking ahead to Monmouth’s contest against Charleston at noon on Sunday, March 10th, the Hawks have an uphill battle ahead of them. Charleston won the regular season matchup 94-83 and you should expect much of the same in the rematch. Monmouth is capable of keeping up with the Cougars and their defensive focus will be the key if they want a chance to upset Charleston. After the win against Campbell, Coach Rice spoke about how important the defense was to their victory:

“I have been telling the team, our offense is going to be there with us. The only way we can win this thing [game] is our defense and I think our defense carried us today”

It should be a great game and look for Monmouth to keep it competitive against the one-seeded Charleston.


Game 4: No. 5 Towson defeats No. 13 William & Mary 67-56


This game started ugly for both teams. Neither team shot 35% or better in the first two frames. Eventually, once both teams got settled down, the three-pointers started falling. At the under-four media timeout, both teams were averaging north of 40% from deep. William & Mary, behind a great turnout from their fans, kept control of the first half and went into the break leading by one, 30-29. This lead was largely in part due to keeping the offensive rebounding battle close. Towson finished the first half leading just 7-6 on the offensive glass, their biggest strength, ranking second in the country in that category (40.3%). 


That confident half for the Tribe would slowly fade in the second half. Towson’s Charles Thompson did not play in the first half, more than likely due to his headbutt in the regular season finale against UNCW. He started the second half for the Tigers and the rest was history. His energy was infectious and he contributed across the stat sheet putting up 10 points, 6 rebounds, and 3 assists on a perfect 3-3 from the field and 4-5 from the free throw line. When I asked Towson head coach Pat Skerry about how vital his impact and energy was to the victory, this was his response: 

“He is our leader. He is the best worker, teammate, and human being I have been around in 31 years. I thought I would try to surprise them [William & Mary] and keep him hidden in the first half and then unveil him and wreak some havoc and it ended up working down the stretch.”

The rematch between Towson and UNCW will be appointment viewing. 


Game 5: No. 7 Stony Brook defeats No. 10 Northeastern 75-65


When these two teams met in the season, Stony Brook won both games by less than ten points. As it is said many times, including by Stony Brook head coach Geno Ford in post-game, beating a team three times is a tall task. However, Stony Brook did not have a problem doing so today. 


Early on in this game, Stony Brook’s Chris Maidoh made his presence felt with two assists and a dunk on his first field goal attempt. This game stayed close for most of the first half with neither team leading by more than six points, which was also Stony Brook’s lead at the break. A large part of Northeastern’s struggles in the first half was a quiet twenty minutes from Chris Doherty and Luka Sakota, who had four and zero points, respectively. Dean Noll led all scorers at the half with 14 points.


We have seen time and time again what it takes to win games in March: high-level guard play. Ultimately, that exact thing won Stony Brook the game down the stretch. Tyler Stephenson-Moore and Aaron Clarke would lead the charge for the Seawolves with 13 and 12 points, respectively. Dean Noll was on track to eclipse his career-high in points (23) at the under-sixteen media timeout. He had 17 with 15:42 remaining in the game. He would go on a personal 13:48-long scoring drought. After a couple of late free throws, he would finish with 23 points.



Stony Brook lost the rebounding battle and head coach Geno Ford addressed post-game how important that was going to be if they want to defeat Drexel, who is third in the conference in rebounds per game (39.1):

"We got a big task ahead of us tomorrow. Clearly, we have struggled all year defensive rebounding. That continued today and that will be an issue tomorrow [versus Drexel] if we can't solve it. We talk about and we say all the right things but we've got to rebound the ball better. When you get a stop and they grab it and score two points on a putback, that's brutal. It happened way too much today, and it's happened in other games. Hopefully, we can correct it for tomorrow."

The Seawolves have the advantage in the backcourt but they will have to figure out how to contain Drexel’s Amari Williams if they want any chance to move on to Monday. 


Game 6: No. 6 Delaware vs. No. 14 Hampton


After an exciting one-point victory over Elon on Friday night as the fourteen seed, Hampton had its work cut out against a very talented Delaware team that I believe is better than their six seed would indicate. This game's result surely showed that. 


From the jump, Delaware was getting to the rim with ease and getting to the foul line as a result of those drives. In the first 11:52, they were shooting 60% from the field and 83% from the line. The first half would be much of the same for the Blue Hens, who went into the break with a 51-16 on 63% shooting from the field, 45.5% from deep, and 88.9 from the free throw line. 


As insane as the first half sounded, Hampton didn’t back down and they would eventually win the second half 34-29. Kyrese Mullen and Jerry Deng were the lone bright spots for the Pirates as they had 17 and 13, respectively. No matter how great of a second half you play, it is nearly impossible to win a game with 23/19/82 splits. Hampton had some great wins this year but unfortunately, this was not one of them. Delaware would lead by as many as 47 points (70-23) but wound up winning by 30 because all the starters played less than ten minutes in the second half.


Delaware and Hofstra meet for the 103rd time and it should be a competitive contest. I am interested to see how Jyare Davis affects the game for Delaware. Hofstra held him to just 11 points in their first meeting back on January 6th, 2024. 


 

I will have more coverage for the full slate of games on Sunday, March 10th, 2024 for House of College Hoops including live tweets, video previews, and another written recap just like this one on Monday morning. Follow me on X to stay up to date with the CAA Championship.


CAA champion is crowned in the capital banner










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