By Jerome Bailey, Staff Writer
Hofstra basketball head coach Tom Pecora may have been wearing a green blazer on St. Patrick's Day but the Pride certainly did not have the luck of the Irish Wednesday night against the IUPUI Jaguars.
At the Mack Sports Complex, the Pride came out rather sluggish and was never able to fully recover, losing to the Jaguars 74-60. The first round exit in the College Basketball Invitational leaves the Pride with a final record of 19-15.
"Obviously that's not what we planned on happening," said Pecora. "When we prepare for games, we hope the guys are going to come out focus and locked in, and tonight that was not the case. We dug ourselves too big of a whole from the start."
With five minutes gone by in the first half the Pride were still searching for a basket and trailed the Jaguars 13-0. The Pride was missing layups and shots from all over the court. Finally after six minutes, senior guard Cornelius Vines scored on a breakaway layup. The Jaguars would pull away and increase their lead to 21-2.
"I have no idea why we came out flat tonight. You have to give a good effort every game, and tonight for whatever reason we did not. It was just one of those nights," said Pecora.
The Pride cut the deficit throughout the game and trailed by eight towards the end of the first half. However, a buzzer-beater three by the Jaguars gave IUPUI a 37-24 lead going into the half. In the second half, the Pride continued to chip away, but the Jaguars led by Robert Glenn's 32, points proved to be too much.
Glenn was a force in the middle, and took advantage of the absence of Pride junior Greg Washington, who suffered an ankle injury shortly after the CAA tournament.
Early in the second half, freshman guard Chaz Williams scored on a fast break layup and converted the foul shot for the three-point play. The basket trimmed the lead to 52-41 with less than 12 minutes left in the game but the Jaguars again responded and extended the lead.
The Pride were led on offense by CAA Player of the Year junior Charles Jenkins, with 21 points, but he only attempted 13 shots in the game.
"Losing tonight was disappointing. Coach put a lot of trust in me and I let him down," Jenkins said after the game. "I have to be more of a leader on the court. Every time I step on the court, the younger guys look up to me." The Pride shot 2 for 19 from beyond the arc and had 16 turnovers.
The game was the last for Vines and fellow senior Miklos Szabo in a Hofstra uniform. "I wish they did not have to leave on this note. I have always said we will go as far as our seniors take us, and during out late-season surge Vines and Szabo showed better leadership and played well," said Pecora.
The loss ended the Pride's season on a bitter note but the team feels that the IUPUI loss does not define the whole season. Despite a rough January stretch during the season the Pride finished the season winning nine out of their last 10, before eventually falling to Northeastern in the CAA tournament.
Pecora and Pride now head out recruiting and prepare spring individual work out as well as getting ready for next season.