By Joe Pantorno, Sports Editor
For a moment the ball hung in midair momentarily after striking the front of the rim. You could hear the crowd holding its breath as senior guard Nicole Capurso's three-pointer from the right elbow looked to have missed short, but time sped up, the ball dropped through the cylinder and the Mack exploded.
With 14.3 seconds left, Capurso lifted the Hofstra women's basketball team to victory, 69-66 over Towson on Sunday afternoon.
"I didn't expect to be that wide open," said Capurso. "I saw Candace's [Bond] face light up from out of bounds like, ‘oh my goodness she is so wide open.' So I didn't think, I just pulled it and it fell."
Hofstra (18-8, 10-5 CAA) been trailing for the first 24 minutes of the game, as Towson (16-10, 7-8 CAA) shot 50 percent from the field in the first half. It was not until a lay-up by junior forward Shante Evans with 15:41 left in the game that the Pride had its first lead.
Capurso's game winner took headlines away from Evans' monster game. After a five point effort against Delaware, Hofstra's leading scorer scored 29 points with 20 rebounds in the victory, 21 of her points coming in the second half.
"This was very important for my confidence I guess," said Evans. "I definitely didn't play good last game, coming into this game I had it in the back of my mind that I'm not going to let my team down this game so I came out and gave it my all."
"I'm obviously very proud of my team in a tough battle against Towson," said Head Coach Krista Kilburn-Steveskey. "This is one of the best Towson teams I've seen since I've been in the Colonial [CAA]."
Hofstra's first lead of the game was short-lived as Towson was able to take a 60-53 lead with six and a half minutes left.
The play of Evans, along with the ever improving offensive game of the birthday girl, junior forward Candace Bond, who had 14 points on 7-10 shooting, brought Hofstra right back into contention.
"Coach has been telling me that she wants me to be more of an offensive threat," said Bond. "One of my goals has been to develop my game more offensively."
When asked if this was the best birthday gift she could receive, Bond just smiled and said, "Definitely."
Down 64-62 with 2:34 left, sophomore forward Anma Onyeuku made one of the largest plays of the game, when she scooped up a loose ball, hit a lay-up and was fouled. She made her foul shot to put Hofstra up one.
"Wow that was big," said Kilburn-Steveskey. "Nicole [Capurso] was even saying it that she was the spark."
Foul shots by Towson's Sheree Ledbetter and Evans had the game tied at 66 before Capurso's heroics.
Towson had a chance to tie the game with guard Ciara Webb heaving up a three as time expired, but it was well short as Hofstra pulled within one game of second place in the CAA after James Madison lost at Northeastern.
Hofstra has a chance to take over second place in the conference on Thursday night as it travels down to Virginia to take on James Madison.