By Joe Pantorno, Staff Writer
Coming off of a tough 52-56 loss at Northeastern on Sunday, the Hofstra Pride was hungry for a win against George Mason University on Thursday at the Mack Sports Complex in Hempstead, NY. Head coach Krista Kilburn-Steveskey decided to let senior center Jess Fuller, who leads the team in blocked shots, play despite an injured ankle.
The last time the two teams played, Hofstra defeated the Patriots 72-39, but Kilburn-Steveskey knew it would not be as easy this time around. "It's kind of the kiss of death when this happens. We're different teams the last time we played" said Kilburn-Steveskey.
It appeared the Pride would run away with another win in it's second meeting with George Mason, as Hofstra started the game on a 9-2 run. The Pride got the ball down low to Fuller and freshman forward Shante Evans, a strategy that GMU struggled to stop. The Pride constantly beat the Patriots to loose balls and out rebounded Mason 42-29 in the game.
Hofstra controlled the tempo of the game in the first half. Sophomore guard Candice Bellocchio and senior guard Sam Brigham commanded the Hofstra offense to a 25-17 lead at the half. Sophomore guard Nicole Capurso led the team with ten points at the break. The Pride defense preformed just as well, holding Mason's best player, junior guard Brittany Poindexter, scoreless in the half.
George Mason came out at halftime on a 6-2 run, but Hofstra answered back and scored the next eight points. Mason then went on a 15-1 run of its own and gained the lead for the first time, 38-37. Freshman forward Amber Easter and Poindexter led the charge, as Mason shot 60 percent from thee-point range in the second half.
Hofstra reverted back to its first half strategy of getting the ball underneath the basket to Fuller and Evans. Junior guard Aamira Terry had the most timely play of the game, scoring her only points on a layup off a steal, that extended Hofstra's lead to three points. Evans and Fuller made sure that there would be no comeback for George Mason as they continued to overpower the smaller Patriot defenders, as Hofstra closed out the game on a 13-4 run.
Fuller, who said following the game that she "feels pretty good, I'm not all there yet," scored 15 points but was overshadowed by Evans. The freshman posted her eleventh double-double of the season, with 20 points and 18 rebounds. "I just knew where the ball was coming off the rim to get those rebounds," Evans said.
"It was great to get back on track," said Kilburn-Steveskey, "The team did a great job. We worked really hard on our ball movement all throughout the week after the loss to Northeastern and it showed."
The Pride is next in action as it travels to Philadelphia to face Gabriela Marginean and the Drexel Dragons, Tuesday February 23.