By Joe Pantorno, Sports Editor
While we took a break to give thanks over the weekend, it was all business in a faraway land for the Hofstra women's basketball team, sweeping the Cancun Challenge down in Mexico with a pair of ten-point victories over Kansas State on Thanksgiving Day and Drake on Black Friday.
"It was definitely a business trip and I was proud of my team for staying so focused in the beautiful weather," said head coach Krista Kilburn-Steveskey. "We got down there, it's 85 degrees, beautiful property, but [the players] were very driven and very focused and we knew we had to take care of business."
After a home opening win against St. John's six days earlier, Hofstra hit the court with tenacity and hunger, jumping out to a 30-16 halftime lead and did not allow Kansas State back into the game.
"I thought the kids executed the game plan very well," said Kilburn-Steveskey. "I challenged them. They've guarded great players in our league and now they had to start the heart and the heartbeat of Kansas State."
Junior forward Shante Evans recorded 19 points and seven rebounds and sophomore guard Katelyn Loper was the only other Hofstra player that had a double-digit outing, scoring ten points.
Hofstra had the lead from the first minute. Junior guard Nicole Capurso scored seven of her nine points in the first half, drawing fouls and taking advantage of her trips to the free throw line, going 4-4.
Kansas State was able to chip into the Hofstra lead throughout the second half, outscoring the Pride 38-34 in the second half, but Hofstra's start proved to be too much to come back from.
Hofstra's perimeter defense was another reason why Kansas State could not find a way back into the game. Shooting 2-17 from beyond the arc, the more opportunities missed, the more pressed the Wildcats were to shoot threes to try and cut the deficit.
Hofstra was able to shoot 41 percent from the field on the day cruising to a 64-54 victory. The win was the Pride's first victory over a current Big 12 school in program history.
"I've been telling the kids that there isn't a team on this schedule that we can't beat," said Kilburn-Steveskey. "They believe a lot in themselves."
Back at it again the next day against Drake, Hofstra needed a little more than the first half to put away the Bulldogs.
Evans and Capurso led Hofstra with 15 points each, Evans recording the double-double with ten rebounds in addition.
"They carried the team and put them on their back," said Kilburn-Steveskey. "You need more than one person to stop Shante, and Nicole gave that type of experience that really paid off."
Some new faces were called into action early when senior guard Candice Bellocchio was taken out of the game when she took an elbow to the face.
In her absence, freshman guard Andreana Thomas recorded nine points and two rebounds.
Sophomore forward Anma Onyeuku also provided a solid outing off the bench with ten points and six rebounds. Onyeuku provided speed coming off the bench as Hofstra looked to maintain its flying pace that has had such a positive effect throughout the year.
"I like our tempo and how we score in transition," said Kilburn-Steveskey. "We're not predictable."
Hofstra utilized a 19-5 run with eight minutes left in the game to secure its fourth consecutive win, a 70-60 decision.
"I like what we're doing," said Kilburn-Steveskey. "As long as we win the game I don't care how we win the game."
The two wins extend Hofstra's winning-streak to four games, improving its record to 4-1.