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Cassara era begins as Pride score 102

By Joe Pantorno, Assistant Sports Editor

Mo Cassara's reign finally began as head coach at Hofstra University when the Pride welcomed Farmingdale State College to the Mack Sports Complex on Saturday, November 13.

To say the Pride started the game hot would be an understatement. Not even five minutes into the game, senior guard Charles Jenkins and senor center Greg Washington had seven points apiece as the Pride began the game on a 17-8 run.

The outside game was working to the Pride's favor, as a majority of its points came from mid-range jumpers or from behind the arc.

"I thought we came out and made some good passes," said Cassara. "When we are really aggressive to make the extra pass, we make a lot more shots."

The early lead gave Cassara the opportunity to test the depth of his bench as sophomore guard Yves Jules, freshman guard Shemiye McLendon and freshman forward Stephen Nwaukoni all made appearances in the first 10 minutes.

When the shooting from the outside finally cooled down, it was Washington, Nwaukoni and sophomore forward David Imes who were able to clean up the glass to create second chance points. "Once we have a presence down low, and Greg really established himself I thought it really opened up the game," said Cassara.

The scoring wasn't just limited to the usual names in the first half.  Along with 13 from Jenkins and Washington, McLendon added 10 and junior guard Mike Moore added seven as the teams hit the locker with the Pride up 46-27 and shooting almost 50 percent from the field. Washington was a menace under the basket defensively, blocking four shots and picking up seven rebounds. 

"I just got after it," said Washington. "Positioning was very big and I tried to outwork them on both ends of the court."

The beginning of the second half saw Farmingdale State settle down a bit, though their improvement was just to keep their deficit to reasonable terms.

The Pride defense began to stifle the Rams though as its lead began to grow. With just five and a half minutes gone, the Hofstra lead was up to twenty-four.

It was a battle for Farmingdale just to stay in contention and with a long two from the right by Jules, the lead expanded to 29 with nine and a half minutes remaining.

With such a large lead, there was no let up on defense even though Cassara began giving his core players a rest. With six and a half minutes remaining, Hofstra sported a five that included three freshman (Paul Bilbo, Matt Grogan and Roland Brown) that were still able to increase their lead thanks to the brilliance of Jenkins and the dynamic play of junior guard Dwan McMillan who quietly put up 15 points.

As the game wound down, four freshman were on the court with the re-entry of McLendon who contributed a strong showing of sixteen points and put on a three point shooting clinic throughout the game. 

Cassara's squad was working on all cylinders and when Brown hit a mid range jumper from the right, Hofstra hit the 100 point plateau, the first time since the 1991-92 season when they put up 103 against UMBC. The lead stretched to 40 points as the final buzzer sounded, giving he Pride an emphatic 102-62 victory.

"Offensively we played pretty well, defensively, we have a lot of work to do," said Cassara on his first win.

Jenkins was named player of the game with 26 points, eight rebounds and eight assists. Washington finished with thirteen and added eight rebounds (four offensive, four defensive).

The Pride is next in action on November 18 when they head down to Puerto Rico for the Honda Puerto Rico Season Tip-Off to take on the University of North Carolina at 5 p.m. on ESPN 2.

Hofstra guard Charles Jenkins scores two of his 26 points against Farmingdale State. (Sean M. Gates/The Chronicle)

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