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Hofstra Upsets Georgia Tech

The game against Georgia Tech in the opening round of the ECAC Holiday Festival was the one Hofstra had been looking forward to all season.

Now it will go down as one of the biggest wins in school history.

The Flying Dutchmen beat Georgia Tech 61-42 Saturday as Norman Richardson matched his career high with 23 points, a game Hofstra had in hand the whole way.

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"Playing over the holidays in Madison Square Garden and against Georgia Tech no less, it doesn't get any better," Hofstra coach Jay Wright said. "Our players are all New Yorkers and were good high school players and they expected to win this game more than I did."

The Flying Dutchmen (6-4) will play the winner of the Iona-Penn matchup in Sunday's championship game.

The victory was the fourth straight for Hofstra, but it was arguably the biggest for the Long Island school since beating Temple in the East Coast Conference championship game in 1976.

"We came out sky high and we thought we had a chance to win," Richardson said. "We beat a great team and we feel good about ourselves winning in Madison Square Garden. It's special."

The loss kept the wild roller coaster ride of Georgia Tech (8-3) going. Over their last five games, the Yellow Jackets have rallied for an overtime win over archrival Georgia, played poorly in a win over Wofford, lost 80-39 to No. 3 Kentucky, beat No. 7 North Carolina 66-64 and lost to Hofstra.

"Sometimes if you try and figure things like this out all it does is drive you crazy," Georgia Tech coach Bobby Cremins said. "That wasn't our team that played the last game."

Hofstra led after a first half that saw the teams combine for two points over the final 4 1/2 minutes. Those were two free throws by Abdou Sylla that gave Hofstra a 29-17 lead with 9.3 seconds left. "When he hit that one off a set play I said, `We're in good shape,'" Wright said.

Georgia Tech never generated any sustained offense, shooting 35 percent (18-for-52), while committing 25 turnovers, 10 by freshman point guard Tony Akins. Hofstra had 14 steals and was stayed with the much taller Yellow Jackets on the boards, being outrebounded only 38-34.

"Our defense was good," Wright said. "We talked that for us to be able to get out and run we had to do a great job on defense."

Roberto Gittens and Jason Hernandez each had 10 points for the Flying Dutchmen.

Jones led Georgia Tech with 12 points, 12 rebounds and six blocked shots.

"We didn't come out hard," Jones said. "We weren't playing as tough as they were."

Jason Collier, Georgia Tech's 7-foot forward who was averaging 18.8 points and 7.3 rebounds since becoming eligible four games ago, had seven points and four rebounds.

"The way we rebounded against North Carolina after Kentucky I hope this is rock bottom because we can't play any worse than this," Yellow Jackets forward Jon Babul said.

The only other meeting between the schools was Georgia Tech's 58-47 victory in the semifinals of the 1996 Holiday Festival.

© 1998 SportsLine USA, Inc. All rights reserved

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