By Joe Pantorno, Sports Editor
Holding a 71-69 lead with 2.9 seconds remaining, a lay-up by Marist guard Casey Dulin as time expired was waived off by the referees as it came out of her hands just a little too late, to give the Pride its third straight victory and the New York Life Holiday Invitational championship.
"I'm just so proud of my team playing smart against a very good Marist team," said Hofstra head coach Krista Kilburn-Steveskey. "I'm proud of them for being able to sustain and communicate and play a lot of defense tonight. I saw some good things."
Junior forward Shante Evans' play was nothing short of mythical as she scored 29 points and hauled in 18 rebounds, 13 of them coming on the offensive board. Evans was given the tournament's Most Valuable Player award as voted by the media.
"Coming into this game I could not get a foul call and every time I got the ball in my hands I just kept going up," said Evans. "Hopefully, I was praying they'd give me a call but I had fun."
"She's always going to have three people on her," said Kilburn-Steveskey. "She had three people on her often. It's physical and it's hard telling someone to stay in there and it takes restrain that I don't even have to deal with that."
Junior forward Candace Bond added some offensive prowess to her normally stellar defensive game with 15 points, 14 rebounds and four steals. Bond had the responsibility of guarding Marist's best scorer; guard Corielle Yarde, who recorded 14 points on 6/18 shooting. Her efforts received a job well done from Kilburn-Steveskey.
"She [Bond] is a great defensive coach for everyone down there," said Kilburn-Steveskey.
"If I could just play defense I would be fine," said Bond with a smirk on her face. "Coach told me that ‘you need to be a more offensive player and you need to be more confident.' I think in the past two games I've been more confident offensively."
In a team that lived and died by the three-pointer, Hofstra held Marist to just 8/27 shooting from beyond the arc. The Red Foxes did however make the necessary changes to the game plan to keep the Pride on its toes, especially finding chances under the basket.
"They hurt us down low towards the end," said Kilburn-Steveskey. "That's how they hurt people."
Hofstra saw a 13 point second half lead evaporate with Marist taking a 68-66 lead with 1:36 remaining in the game.
An Evans lay-up tied the game at 68 and a defensive stop and rebound by Bond set Evans up for her biggest play of the game.
After a missed lay-up by senior guard Candice Bellocchio, Evans pulled down an offensive rebound and with three players on her, went up, made a lay-up and was fouled. She made the free throw for the three-point play with 12 seconds left to play.
"I saw the ball went up and I gravitate to the ball naturally," said Evans. "My jumping ability over them helped. I had to keep the ball up because they [Marist] don't foul you and I had six hands in my face and I couldn't see the basket at all. So I went up there got the ball and put it straight back up."
After Dulin's lay-up was waived off by officials, some confusion had Kilburn-Steveskey in uproar.
"It was strange because they had the [Marist] coach walk up to the monitor," said Kilburn-Steveskey. "I have never seen that in 20 years of coaching. It was a very odd thing for me to look at from the bench."
"It was crazy and a really rough game."
Hofstra improves to 9-2 on the season and will next be in action after the holidays on December 29 against Princeton.