All Hofstra had to do to get to overtime was defend the length of the court for six seconds.
If only it were that easy.
With his team tied with Delaware, Hofstra coach Joe Mihalich called for a press. Delaware’s Kevin Anderson then received the ball a few feet from the basket before beginning his trek to the other end.
He got by Hofstra guard Desure Buie before splitting two defenders to give himself a chance at the game-winner, then lofted a floater over the outstretched arms of a leaping Stafford Trueheart.
The ball found the bottom of the net with three-tenths of a second left. One intercepted pass later, Mihalich and his players could only wonder how — with overtime so close — they ended up with a 73-71 loss.
“We let a guy with a blue shirt dribble through five guys and make a layup,” Mihalich said. “Shame on us for doing that. There was no screen set. There was no fancy play run, unless I missed it. From 94 feet away, we let a guy with six seconds catch the ball and dribble through everybody. Shame on us.”
Hofstra (14-7, 5-3 Colonial Athletic Association) has lost two straight games, both in the last 10 seconds. Each of the Pride’s last four games has been decided by two points.
Buie paced Hofstra with 19 points and six assists. Justyn Mutts produced a career-high 30 points and also had 13 rebounds for Delaware (14-7, 4-4).
“With games like that, you gotta execute and make plays and do the little things on offense and defense to win games, and we didn’t do it down the stretch,” Mihalich said. “We got no one to blame but ourselves. Everybody in that room, starting with me. We got no one to blame but ourselves.”
The teams entered the final minute tied at 69. Hofstra’s Jalen Ray hit both free throws in a one-and-one to tie the score at 71 before the fateful play that could prove costly to Hofstra’s chances to win the conference title.
No Hofstra defender managed to stay in front of Anderson to force a pass, and he had too clean of a look considering the distance he had to travel in six seconds.
Buie took blame for the final play. “I didn’t do what I was supposed to do,” he said.
But his coach noted that the Pride did not do a strong job of preparing for end-game situations in Wednesday’s practice.
Said Mihalich: “We didn’t deserve to win this game.”