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Hofstra loses to visiting Towson, fails to clinch CAA title

Hofstra guard Tareq Coburn goes to the hoop

Hofstra guard Tareq Coburn goes to the hoop on Towson forward Dennis Tunstall during the first half at Hofstra University on Thursday February 27, 2020. Credit: Lee S. Weissman/Lee S. Weissman

Hofstra will have to wait to celebrate.

With a chance to clinch its second straight Colonial Athletic Association title, Hofstra instead was bullied by Towson in a 76-65 loss at the David S. Mack Sports and Exhibition Complex on Thursday night.

Hofstra (22-8, 13-4 CAA), which had its winning streak snapped at eight games, allowed 24 offensive rebounds and was outrebounded 49-26.

“They were more desperate. They wanted the ball more than us,” the Pride’s Tareq Coburn said. “We didn’t do what we were supposed to do, they did. To have 24 offensive rebounds, I don’t know if I ever remember that happening to this team — ever. That’s kind of embarrassing.”

Coburn scored 21 points and Isaac Kante had 20 for Hofstra. Top scorer Desure Buie had only six points and shot 2-for-14.

The Pride, which already has clinched at least a share of the CAA regular-season title, still can beat out William & Mary and clinch the title outright by defeating James Madison — the worst team in the conference — on Saturday. Hofstra can become the fifth team in conference history to win two straight titles outright. The feat hasn’t been accomplished since VCU did so from 2007-09.

Thursday’s loss could be cause for concern, though, because Towson (18-12, 11-6) imposed its will all game.

The Tigers won this game on the glass and set the tone with an imposing first half. Hofstra allowed Towson to grab 14 offensive rebounds in the half, which matched the Pride’s rebound total, and the Tigers tallied 20 second-chance points to grab a 43-35 lead.

One sequence captured the theme of the game when the Tigers missed four shots but collected each rebound before finally scoring on their fifth chance to take a 37-31 lead. The first half concluded with Towson’s Nicolas Timberlake scoring off a missed shot.

“We said before the game, the best thing they do is miss a shot,” Hofstra coach Joe Mihalich said. “We have to keep them to one shot. We failed miserably in that category.”

Hofstra also trailed by eight at the half in the previous matchup on Dec. 30 before rallying for a 75-67 win. This time it could not get closer than three points.

Each time the Pride produced a mini-spurt to get the energetic crowd buzzing, Towson did a nice job of responding to halt the momentum.

After falling behind by 11 points, Hofstra used consecutive three-pointers to cut Towson’s lead to 60-55 with 8:06 remaining. Towson senior guard Brian Fobbs (21 points) responded with a rally-killing three-pointer that started a 7-0 run.

Towson’s Allen Betrand sealed the game with a three-pointer that gave the Tigers a 72-62 lead with 2:09 remaining.

“If we’re going to win a championship, tonight has to be one of the reasons why because it’s going to be about how we respond to this,” Mihalich said. “We’re not going to put this behind us. We’re going to keep talking about this until hopefully we can do something good in [the CAA Tournament].  We have to keep this on our mind. We can’t burn the tape.”

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