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Ameen Tanksley leads Hofstra in revenge-fueled semifinal win over William & Mary

Hofstra's Ameen Tanksley shoots over William & Mary's

Hofstra's Ameen Tanksley shoots over William & Mary's Sean Sheldon, front, and Greg Malinowski in the first half of a Colonial Athletic Association men's college basketball tournament semifinal in Baltimore, Sunday, March 6, 2016. Credit: Steve Ruark

BALTIMORE — There was no mistaking the driving force behind Hofstra’s drive to earn the No. 1 seed in the Colonial Athletic Association Tournament. It was the vision of William & Mary’s Daniel Dixon burying a game-winning three-pointer in double overtime in last year’s semifinal loss.

Dixon’s three with eight- tenths of a second left gave the Tribe a 92-91 victory a year ago. The Pride has been taking it out on William & Mary ever since, winning both regular-season meetings before pulling out a 70-67 triumph in the CAA semifinal rematch Sunday afternoon at Royal Farms Arena.

Ameen Tanksley led the way with a game-high 23 points. Recalling the emotion he felt a year ago, he said, “I couldn’t sleep for about a week just seeing that shot go in. I would constantly see it, people replaying it. Man, you have to wait a whole year. I think we had some bad blood.”

It showed in a physical game in which Hofstra center Rokas Gustys was limited to 27 minutes by foul trouble. When he was on the floor, the Tribe defended the pick-and-roll to hold Gustys to a single shot and two points.

The Pride compensated with a barrage of three-point shots, with 32 of their 54 attempts coming from outside the arc. But Tanksley wisely kept driving through the William & Mary zone to get into the paint for 20 of his 23 points, including foul shots.

“Sometimes we all settle for shots they give us,” said Tanksley, who had six turnovers while fighting his way inside. “A couple of my turnovers came when I was forcing the situation, but I decided I’m not going to let them stop me from driving. It was basically off reads. A couple I read wrong and got turnovers, and some of them, I read right.”

William & Mary coach Tony Shaver said his team doubled Hofstra star Juan’ya Green. “We wanted somebody else to beat us, and Tanksley did that,” Shaver said. “He’s one of the best players in the league.”

Tanksley’s layup with 4:27 left gave Hofstra a 65-59 lead, but the Tribe responded with an 8-0 run starting with three-pointers from Dixon and Greg Malinowski.

“Once they hit them two threes, I was like, ‘Man, it’s ‘Part II,’ ” Tanksley said. “My heart was pounding. Like, ‘This is not happening again . . . Just finish these guys.’ ”

Tanksley put the final nail in William & Mary’s coffin when he made one of two free throws with 1.9 seconds left. “I missed that second free throw because I had relief, like it was over,” Tanksley said. “I was too happy mentally. Like, ‘Oh, my God, we got them.’ ”

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