Hofstra enters this game with two conference losses, equaling their total for the entire conference slate last season. Campbell is coming off a close loss they had in their grasp for most of the contest on Thursday versus Delaware. The winner goes to 2-2 in the CAA and the loser goes to 1-3. I knew the intensity would be there from the jump and boy did it not disappoint.
In the first half, you could tell immediately it was going to be a physical game and the referees were allowing it to be that way with only three fouls combined, all in the act of shooting. That type of game gives the advantage to Campbell whose identity has been built this year on its defense. This was going to be a challenge for them as Hofstra is a team that can put up points in a hurry.
Tyler Thomas enters the contest averaging 22.8 points per game, which is third in the nation.
Another player vital to Hofstra's success on offense is Jaquan Carlos who was top 50 in the country in assist rate entering this game. In the first half, the Pride was held to 33% from the field, 23.5% from behind the three-point line, and Thomas and Carlos combined for 10 points and 3 assists.
The second half saw Hofstra come out with a sense of purpose on defense with two steals in the first three minutes of the second half. Offensively, they came out aggressive with rim pressure resulting in two of their first three field goals of the second half being dunks. This three-minute sequence gave them momentum that fueled a valiant effort for the final twenty minutes.
Basketball is a tale of two halves a lot of times and Hofstra put that on full display shooting 50% from the field and 44.4% from three in the second half. Campbell showed a tremendous effort in the second half getting to the rim and making free throws (18-21 in the game) to maintain composure and keep this game within reach at all times.
The Camel's biggest difference makers to help win this game are Anthony Dell'Orso and Laurynas Vaistaras. Dell'Orso led all scorers with 29 points and 13 rebounds to secure a double-double in the victory. Head coach Kevin McGeehan spoke highly of Vaistaras post-game. Here are his comments:
"He is all in. You need guys that are all in and he has been that way since the day he stepped foot on campus... we have had guys that have shown him the path, Andrew Eudy, Milos (Stajcic) of all in about Campbell and Campbell basketball. If you care that much about anything and work hard, good things happen. That's who LV is."
Campbell fans should have understandable optimism as we roll on further into CAA play. Coach McGeehan shared his thoughts when asked how this game was a test and what it showed him about his team:
"Our guys fought their butts off. Just as I don't want to make too much of a loss to Delaware or North Carolina A&T, I don't want to make too much of this win. We are a work in progress. That is what I would be telling you if it went the other way... constantly working on trying to get better."
This result puts Hofstra in a place it hasn't been much at all under head coach Speedy Claxton, below .500 in conference play. This team is talented and has the experience to get back to winning ways. For Coach McGeehan's team, this 2-2 start is one to relish in and get ready to keep getting better as he stated.
Hofstra's next game is Thursday, January 18th, 2024 at home at 7 pm EST.
Campbell's next game is on the road at William & Mary on Thursday, January 18th, 2024 at 7 pm EST.