By Joe Pantorno, Assistant Sports Editor
The Hofstra University men's basketball team looked to extend its four game win streak against former St. John's head coach Mike Jarvis' Florida Atlantic University on Saturday, December 11.
Hofstra was able to move the ball well early; making smart passes to open up good looks from the field jumping out to an 11-6 lead.
After his 40-point game vs. Binghamton, senior guard Charles Jenkins picked up where he left off upstate, hitting his first three three-point attempts of the game.
FAU managed to make the most of its offensive possessions as they kept the game close despite the Pride's hot start with the score at 22-18 with ten minutes remaining in the half.
With eight minutes left, senior guard Brad Kelleher checked in for his debut as a member of the Pride. He immediately made his presence felt on defense, creating an FAU turnover and sinking two free throws. However, the Australian only played seven minutes for the night, scoring those two points.
The game stayed close into the last five minutes of the half as both teams slowed down offensively. With the score at 25-23, the Pride defense had a few defensive lapses, allowing the Owls to score some easy baskets and take a 29-26 lead with 3:51 remaining.
A Hofstra timeout could not help the cold offense or the weak defense as FAU went into the locker room with a 39-30 lead. Jenkins led the Pride with 13 points at the break.
"I thought the game was really determined in the first half. The latter part of the first half we were flat, we were a little slow to the ball, we didn't execute on offense or defense and it allowed them to get comfortable, they made some tough shots and got a little bit of momentum."
The second half began sloppily for the Pride as the defense continued to allow FAU fairly simple looks at the basket. The Pride's only source of offense in the beginning of the half came from Jenkins, scoring the teams first eight points of the half, keeping Hofstra in it at 43-38 with 15:35 remaining in the game.
After scoring 28 against Binghamton, sophomore guard Mike Moore was almost invisible, committing some bad turnovers, scoring only eight points on the night.
"Mike did not have a good game tonight," said Cassara. "He didn't have his feet underneath him and unfortunately didn't make some shots."
It was Jenkins though that put the Pride on his shoulders as he converted a circus layup on a fast break, drawing the foul and completing his three-point play, cutting the FAU lead to 47-43.
With little offensive support, Jenkins scored 13 of the Pride's first 15 points in the second half, FAU had no problem keeping its advantage.
The Pride defense finally settled down and Jenkins kept wreaking havoc on offense, making another circus layup, drawing the foul and converting his free throw to cut the FAU lead to one point with five minutes left.
FAU came right back with sophomore guard Greg Gantt's three pointer to give the Owls a bit more breathing room.
At the line, Jenkins scored his thirtieth point of the game, his seventieth in two as the senior scored 17of the Pride's 25 second half points.
"We've got to do a little better job getting other guys shots," said Cassara. "Charles is carrying the load offensively but as they start to double team him and take things away we have to do a better job as a group being able to move the ball and get other guys shots."
A long two pointer with three and a half minutes left cut the deficit to one at 58-57.
After sophomore guard Raymond Taylor's three pointer opened the lead to four, Washington sank both his free throws, cutting the lead to two and beckoning the defense to make a big stop with a minute and a half remaining and they did just that, forcing Taylor to miss a mid range jumper.
Uncharacteristically, Jenkins forced a left handed layup that badly missed with forty five seconds remaining in the game and gave FAU possession.
Sending the Owls to the line, Taylor made his shots only to have some shaky Hofstra ball movement result in sophomore guard Dwan McMillan throwing up a brick from three range.
With the score at 63-59, the ball somehow did not reach the hands of Jenkins in the Pride's final possessions, as FAU was able to hold on for the four-point win and improve to 6-4 on the season. Jenkins' 32 points were not enough as Hofstra falls to 5-4 on the season.
"I am so glad I don't have to coach against him (Jenkins) again this year," said the winning coach Jarvis. "He could start for any team in the country and he is a special, special player."
"We have to continue to get better, we have to keep working here," said Cassara. "We got a big week of final exams, take a couple days, let our bodies heal up here and get ready to go down to Manhattan."