Derek Simpson’s drive to tie the game with the overtime clock winding down resulted in his shot rolling off the left side of the rim and the ball getting knocked away as time expired. And with that painful ending, it was over. Rutgers had lost to Hofstra 88-86 in a season ending loss that felt appropriate.
The NCAA Tournament dream died on Sunday. I wrote how challenging this game would be from an emotional and mental standpoint. I thought the players gave effort and played hard, but execution was lacking and the defense was poor. Credit Hofstra for making so many big shots. Even more so as they were without two-time CAA Player of the Year Aaron Estrada the final 12 minutes of the game once he fouled out.
That being said, Rutgers rarely does well when the game becomes a shootout. In fact they were winless this season when allowing more than 65 points in a game. That speaks to a broader issue in regard to the offense and strategy moving forward that I plan to cover this offseason.
Congratulations to Caleb McConnell for passing Eddie Jordan as the program’s all-time steals leader with 221 after swiping two in this game. Glad he was able to do it at the RAC. He also made several big shots down the stretch including two baskets at the rim at the end of regulation. McConnell’s last game for Rutgers resulted in 13 points on 6 of 12 shooting, 5 rebounds, 3 assists and those 2 steals.
Rutgers led 74-69 with 27.5 seconds to play before Hofstra hit a three. On its next possession, after a missed shot and four RU players in the paint alone, the long rebound went off the finger tips of Cliff Omoruyi. Nelson Boachie-Yiadom grabbed the rebound and tied the game with 2 seconds to play on a second chance basket.
In overtime, Hofstra made six of seven shots including several threes. Derek Simpson and Cam Spencer also made threes in the extra session. They both played well offensively all night. Spencer led Rutgers with 22 points on 6 of 11 from three along with 8 rebounds, 5 assists, a steal, a block and zero turnovers. Simpson scored 19 points on 8 of 16 shooting along with 4 assists and a steal. Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough.
The season ends with a 19-15 record and having lost eight of their last eleven games. It was a difficult finish to the season and one that should lead to a full evaluation within the program this offseason.
Here is my rapid reaction video that covers the game as well as several big picture topics. Thanks for watching all of my recaps this season!
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