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Tribe wins semifinal thriller in 2 OT over Hofstra

  • The shot
    The shot  Daniel Dixon takes the game-winning shot during Sunday's game against Hofstra.  Tribe Athletics photo
  • Tribe Pride
    Tribe Pride  Marcus Thornton scored 37 points, a CAA tournament single-game record.  Tribe Athletics photo
  • Tribe Pride
    Tribe Pride  Terry Tarpey sails past Hofstra players.  Tribe Athletics photo
  • Tribe Pride
    Tribe Pride  W&M fans showed up in force for the game.  Tribe Athletics photo
  • Tribe Pride
    Tribe Pride  W&M fans showed up in force for the game.  Tribe Athletics photo
  • Tribe Pride
    Tribe Pride  W&M fans showed up in force for the game.  Tribe Athletics photo
  • Surf's up
    Surf's up  The Griffin shows off its surfing skills.  Tribe Athletics photo
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For the fourth time in eight years, the men’s basketball team at William & Mary stands 40 minutes away from making history.

In a game Colonial Athletic Association historians will reference as perhaps the best in conference history, Daniel Dixon’s 3-point jump shot with 0.8 seconds left in double overtime gave the Tribe a 92-91 victory over Hofstra Sunday at Baltimore’s Royal Farms Arena.

Monday night at 7, the Tribe (20-11) will take on Northeastern, a 78-71 winner over UNC-Wilmigton, for the league crown and an automatic bid to somewhere W&M has never been – the NCAA tournament.

{{youtube:medium:left|ShQq1WDgVGo, Highlights from the game}}

The top-seeded Tribe trailed Hofstra, 91-89, after Moussa Kone’s free throw with 8.3 seconds to go in the second overtime.

W&M put the ball into the hands of CAA player of the year Marcus Thornton. He drove down the left side, Hofstra guard Brian Bernardi shadowing him. As Thornton got to the left elbow, he leaped, faking a shot, and instead threw a short pass to Dixon, who was open in the corner.

The sophomore guard from Great Falls, Va., who recently missed five games with a hamstring injury and just returned to the lineup in the regular-season finale against Drexel, never hesitated. He launched a shot that appeared good from the moment it left his hand, and splashed down cleanly through the hoop with under one second left to play.

"I think it was just a case of Marcus having confidence in me," said Dixon. " 

Technically, Hofstra still had a chance to score, but when guard Brian Bernardi’s inbounds pass hit the arena scoreboard, resulting in a turnover, the Pride’s chances were done.

Not that they didn’t have plenty of them.

Hofstra led by five points, 73-68, with 1:39 remaining in regulation on Bernardi’s 3-point jumper. After Bernardi stepped on the baseline for a turnover, Thornton, who finished with a career-high tying 37 points, drove to the basket, scored, was fouled and completed the 3-point play to pull his team within two points.

Hofstra’s Deon Nesmith missed the front end of a one-and-one, after which Thornton’s two free throws tied the score and forced overtime.

In the first extra period, the teams were tied at 83 apiece, with Hofstra’s Rokas Gustys on the free-throw line for two shots. The freshman forward missed both, and William & Mary was unable to get off a decent shot for the victory.

Thornton’s 37 points is a CAA tournament single-game record. Omar Prewitt, who at times carried the Tribe, notched 33 points.

Once again, William & Mary (20-11) has a chance to divorce itself from “The Forgotten Five” – the five original NCAA members who have never advanced to the NCAA event also known as “The Big Dance.”

The Tribe led, 35-32, at halftime thanks to a scintillating late-half shooting exhibition by Thornton. With his team trailing by four and under three minutes to play, he made three consecutive 3-point jumpers to push W&M into a five-point lead. He finished the half with 16 of his 37 points.

All of that came with Terry Tarpey on the bench after rolling his ankle grabbing a rebound with 3:58 to go in the half. He returned at the 2:03 mark, but wasn’t a factor offensively for the remainder of the half.

Early on, Prewitt found wide-open driving lanes to the basket, scoring nine of the Tribe’s first 17 points.