With two games left to go to complete an unbeaten home season, William and Mary faltered late against Hofstra Thursday night, falling for the first time this season at Kaplan Arena, 96-82.
Sophomore guard Justin Wright-Foreman was sensational for Hofstra (14-16, 6-11 Colonial Athletic Association), tallying a career-best 35 points including a late second-half stretch in which he totaled 12 of the Pride's 13 points, and the Pride outscored William and Mary (15-13, 9-8 CAA) 30-9 over the last 8:36.
Wright-Foreman, who came in averaging a league-high 22.7 points in CAA play, was 11-for-21 from the field and shot 7-of-12 from 3-point range. And most of the lefty’s 3s were contested, and deep. He put the Pride ahead for good with 3:26 to play by driving to the bucket for a layup, plus a foul and free throw to send Hofstra ahead 85-82 before the Pride scored the next 11 points to finish the game on a 15-0 run.
"Sometimes we made mistakes defensively," Tribe coach Tony Shaver said, "but he had some tough shots, no question about it. Their speed really bothered us. Their guards just got too deep in penetration too often and had the ability to jump up and make shots as well."
"He was special," William and Mary senior guard Daniel Dixon said. "Credit to him. He played a really good game. He's a really talented player. If we do see them (in the CAA tourney), definitely have to do a better job on him."
Dixon was special in his own right, scoring 32 points, four short of his career-high. Dixon, who hit the buzzer-beating 3-pointer to win at Hofstra January 2, was 5-for-11 from beyond the arc, and added five assists.
Shaver praised Dixon, but seeks a more balanced scoring effort. Omar Prewitt finished with 12 points and Jack Whitman had 11, including a couple of ferocious dunks that helped the Tribe to a five-point lead twice under the 10-minute mark.
William and Mary turned it over 15 times, yielding 24 points off turnovers, though the zone defense-proned Pride only scored four points on fast breaks.
"Give Hofstra credit," Shaver said. “They played really well. You're not going to give up 96 points at home and win. We just couldn't stop them. We tried man (defense). We trapped them. We tried zone and they really shot the ball exceptionally well."
Despite the monster game from Wright-Foreman, Hofstra coach Joe Mihalich called it a good team win, noting big man Rokas Gustys’ eight points and 15 rebounds and the play of Williamsburg’s Deron Powers, who netted 15 points.
William and Mary built a quick 11-5 lead about five minutes into the first half courtesy of Prewitt's deep 3-pointer from the right wing.
The Tribe stayed ahead until Wright-Foreman caught fire near the end of the half, nailing a pair of 3s from the right wing on back-to-back possessions including one that made it 41-39 with 1:08 to play.
Then Dixon, who had 15 points at the half, drove into the lane and dished to Prewitt for a layup with just under a minute to play, and the score was tied at 41 at the break.
William and Mary’s longest win streak of the season is four, with consecutive league wins over Delaware, UNC Wilmington, Drexel, and Northeastern. Since then, the Tribe has dropped four of its last six.
Losses are expected in a league with so much parity, but Shaver expects more consistent performances. “The consistency can be there every day in your effort and your execution, and we’ve been up and down in those areas,” he said. “Wins and losses in this league, you’re going to get both. They’re going to be stretches where you might lose two games in a row. I just don’t think it’s as hard as we make it to be consistent in our play.”
William and Mary dropped to 12-1 at Kaplan and entered Thursday one of only 16 teams nationally unbeaten at home.
Whitman said the Tribe weren't thinking too much about the 12-game home win streak and were just focused on winning the home finale Saturday against Towson.
"I think we just need to have a short memory," Dixon added. "We talk about that a lot. Work hard in practice tomorrow and be ready to go."
Holtzman can be reached by phone at 757-298-5830.