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Pride upsets CAA leader Northeastern in Boston

By Jerome Bailey, Staff Writer

With victories against Rider and Northeastern, the Pride is 16-13 overall and has won four straight and eight of its last nine games.

"We finally turned it around, and now is a good time to make a run. We have to keep the momentum rolling, and close out the season on a winning streak," said junior guard Charles Jenkins.

Against Rider on Saturday, Jenkins scored 31 points, including six in overtime, and was one of five Pride players to post double figures. With less than three minutes left in overtime, Jenkins nailed a 19-foot jump shot to extend the Pride's lead to 83-79. The fans erupted as Jenkins pumped his fist and screamed "LET'S GO" to the crowd of 3,119 at the Mack Sports Complex.

On the evening, junior swingman Nathaniel Lester had 14 points with nine rebounds and also had a key blocked shot in overtime.  "Nate made big time plays for us in overtime. He had a couple of jumpers, a block. I am proud of his performance. He is fitting into the role of coming off the bench for us," said Hofstra coach Tom Pecora. 

Junior forward Greg Washington nearly had a triple double with 12 points, 11 rebounds and eight blocks. Washington recorded a double-double in points and rebounds for the first time this season, and the fourth time in his career. 

In addition to his 31 points, Jenkins was 3 for 8 from beyond the arc, giving him 100 three-pointers for his career. Jenkins has become the seventeenth player in school history to reach that milestone. Jenkins also had three assists, totaling 305 assists for his career, which is good for tenth place in school history.

Jenkins' 20 points, eight of which came in a 12-1 game-ending run, helped the Pride stun conference leading Northeastern on the Huskies' senior night in Boston. The Pride (17-13, 9-8 CAA) has won five straight and with the loss, Northeastern drops to second place in the conference.

"To win without everyone playing their A game, up here against and outstanding team- a team that was in a first place. I think a message has been sent, that we can play with anyone in the league and we proved that," said Pride Head Coach Tom Pecora. 

Once again freshman guard Chaz Williams and forward Halil Kanacevic stepped up with huge contributions to the win. Williams had 12 points and one turnover in 35 minutes. Kanacevic came off the bench and had 16 points and 11 rebounds.

"Halil competes like a tiger, he goes out and every possession he plays as hard as he can," said Pecora. "I don't have to say much to him. Halil is a warrior; he's going to be something when he's a senior. He gets frustrated; he has a very high basketball IQ. The two freshmen really know when they make mistakes."

The Pride was off to a sluggish start, trailing 15-9. However, they scored 26 points in a span of less than nine minutes to keep pace with the Huskies (18-11, 13-4 CAA). Going into the second half the Pride trailed 37-35, but in holding the Huskies to 28 percent shooting from the floor, the Pride managed to regain its lead.

The Pride looks to extend its winning streak to six in the season-finale Saturday against Georgia State. Prior to the game, the Pride will honor seniors Cornelius Vines and Miklos Szabo.

The Pride are locked into the seventh seed in the CAA Tournament. Hofstra will play their first round game on March 5, in Richmond, VA against the number 10 seed in the CAA.

Potential opponents for the Pride include Towson and UNC Wilmington. If Hofstra wins its opening matchup they will matchup against number two seed Northeastern for the third time this season.

Lester authoratatively slams down a dunk in the Pride's 73-62 victory over Northeastern. (Sean M. Gates/ The Chronicle)

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