RICHMOND, Va. (AP) -- Hofstra coach Tom Pecora made no attempt to
hide his satisfaction after the Pride shut down one of the nation's
top defensive teams.
Hofstra held George Mason to just four field goals and 16 points
in the second half of a 58-49 victory over the Patriots in the
semifinals of the Colonial Athletic Association tournament.
"That's something to be proud of," a beaming Pecora said.
"There's not a coach in the world who wouldn't be happy with
Carlos Rivera scored 17 of his 25 points in the second half to
rally Hofstra (24-6) to its sixth consecutive victory and its first
trip to the CAA championship game in its five years in the league.
"We had no answer for Rivera," said George Mason coach Jim
Larranaga, whose second-seeded Patriots (23-7) came into the
tournament holding opponents to 38.3-percent shooting, sixth best
in Division I. But Hofstra pressed George Mason into 32.7-percent
shooting, including 4-for-23 in the second half.
"They completely shut us down with their defense," Larranaga
said, "both on the interior and on the perimeter. Hofstra's a
Pecora said he didn't deliver any particular pep talk that
produced the defensive intensity.
"I think we just played harder," he said. "We played
The third-seeded Pride advanced to Monday night's title game
against top-seeded North Carolina-Wilmington, a 69-54 winner over
Northeastern earlier Sunday.
Rivera added 10 rebounds, and Hofstra also got 20 points from
Loren Stokes, who wasn't around for the final 55 seconds.
Television replays showed Stokes was punched in the groin by George
Mason's Tony Skinn. Stokes lay on the floor for several minutes
before walking gingerly to the bench, where he watched the rest of
the game with an ice bag on his lap.
Pecora said neither he nor the officials saw the play.
"You can't let a little incident like that mar a college
basketball game," he said.
Will Thomas led George Mason with 17 points. Skinn added 10 for
the Patriots, who must wait to see if they get an at-large berth to
the NCAA tournament.
George Mason built a 10-point lead before making just one field
goal over a span of more than eight minutes that bridged the two
halves. That allowed Hofstra to cut its deficit to 36-35 on Stokes'
short jumper in the lane with 13:16 remaining.
Hofstra took its first lead when Rivera converted a three-point
play to make it 42-40 with 8:38 left.
After the Pride stretched it to 51-44 on Stokes' 18-footer at
the 2:25 mark, George Mason cut it to 53-49 on a 3-pointer by Skinn
with one minute remaining. But Hofstra sealed the victory by making
five of eight free throws the rest of the way.