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Pride cages Hawks for eighth straight win

By Joe Pantorno, Assistant Sports Editor

After a 90 point effort on Monday, the Hofstra women's basketball team returned home with a grinding 65-51 victory over the University of Hartford for its eighth consecutive win.

Hofstra moved away from the perimeter game, starting the game trying to establish the ball down low. When chances from outside did open up, the Pride was not able to take advantage early.

The full court press that has been Hofstra's bread and butter defensively all year was at it again, forcing some panicky play and bad passes from Hartford.

"We didn't allow them to get into their sets," said head coach Krista Killburn-Steveskey. "We didn't get to control it [the tempo] exactly the way we wanted to but we were definitely able to disrupt what they wanted to do."

Hofstra's offense was stalling a bit in the early stages. Junior guard Candice Bellocchio tried to spark the Pride with a three-pointer from the corner to give Hofstra a 9-6 lead with six minutes gone in the opening half.  

With the sputtering offenses coming out of a media timeout with ten minutes left in the half, the Pride opened up a 14-10 lead as the defenses continued to dominate the game.

Hartford came right back, taking advantage of the lack of Hofstra offensive output with a 16-15 lead with six and a half minutes remaining.

Without a field goal in almost five minutes, freshman forward Anma Onyeuku ended the Pride drought, as a majority of Hofstra's points came in the paint.

With Hofstra's lack of offense, the defense really buckled down in the last ten minutes of the first half as the Pride was able to open up its lead when freshman guard Kate Loper finally was able to connect from beyond the arc to open up a 24-18 lead with three minutes remaining. 

The steals began to flow for the Pride, and so did the points. In the last minutes of the half, Hofstra opened up a 30-19 lead going into the locker room, ending the opening 20 minutes on a 15-3 run.

The Pride was able to hold Hartford to just 21.4 percent shooting from the field, however, Hofstra did not fare much better, only shooting 37.9 percent and only going 2-7 from three-point land. Sophomore guard Candace Bond led the Pride with seven points. 

"Nothing was falling for me in the beginning and very little fell for me in the game," said junior guard Nicole Capurso. "When something wasn't falling or I missed a few shots in a row, I knew if I got a stop and my team got the ball back,  obviously we'd have a better percentage of putting the ball in the basket."

The second half saw more of the same from the Hofstra defense, creating. Bond however, was able to sink an early three-pointer to help the Pride extend its lead to 14 points at 35-21.

The offense started grinding out points, creating turnover after turnover and taking advantage to the fullest, starting the second half on an 11-2 run.

Hartford was temporarily able to find a way past the Hofstra defense, but the Pride traded baskets with the Hawks in order to keep its double digit advantage.  

Hofstra began having trouble finishing under the basket, constantly missing lay ups and second chance opportunities. This helped Hartford get back into the game, cutting the lead to seven with 7:40 remaining in the game.  

"It was very ugly tonight," said Steveskey. "Ten missed lay ups, like point blank layups. I mean, it was a total lack of focus."

The Pride settled down with consecutive three's from Capurso and Loper opening Hofstra's lead back up to 12 at 60-48 with just under four minutes remaining.

Shooting from the outside improved as another Loper three gave Hofstra a 65-49 lead with 2:50 left.

Still playing sloppily, Hofstra kept pounding away and playing tough defense even with the large advantage until the final buzzer, not letting up any sort of pressure. 

"You are in mark with your program when you're definitely very unhappy with a substantial win," said Steveskey. "And that's no disrespect to Hartford, it's completely about ourselves."

Hartford falls to 2-10 on the year while Hofstra improves to 8-1. Evans led the Pride with a double-double with 16 points and 11 rebounds and Capurso added 11 points of her own.

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