By Joe Pantorno, Sports Editor
Junior forward Shante Evans recorded her seventh straight double-double with 26 points and 12 rebounds in the Hofstra women's basketball's 80-67 win over Georgia State Thursday night.
"Every game we try to get up from the beginning and punch them early," said Evans who scored 10 of her points in the game's first six and a half minutes. "It definitely helps to come out fast and get teams on their heels."
With the win, Hofstra improves to 12-3 overall and 4-0 in Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) play. It is the first time since Hofstra has joined the CAA that it has started the conference season with four straight wins.
"It feels awesome," said Hofstra head coach Krista Kilburn-Steveskey. "We just have to sustain it, take it one game at a time and that's what we have to do."
Without sophomore guard and three-point extraordinaire Katelyn Loper, who missed the game with injury, Hofstra was still able to generate offense thanks to Evans and the vision and efficiency of senior guard Candice Bellocchio. It was the first time all season that Hofstra had changed its starting five.
Hofstra's play caller, Bellocchio, provided eight assists with zero turnovers as she picked out the likes of senior guard Nicole Capurso (10 points), senior forward Marie Malone (nine points), and junior forward Deven Green (eight points) as the Pride flew out of the gates putting up 43 points in the first half.
"Is that a typo?" asked Kilburn-Steveskey asked jokingly after seeing Bellocchio had not turned the ball over the entire game.
"I don't think I've ever seen that," said Bellocchio. "It just means I'm getting my teammates the ball and they're finishing, not making too many bad decisions and that's helping us out."
Every single player on Hofstra's roster recorded points and had at least two rebounds.
"I like the sound of 22 assists [as a team] tonight," said Kilburn-Steveskey. "It was a great team win tonight, a lot of folks contributed."
What impressed Kilburn-Steveskey even more was the 27 points allowed in the first 20 minutes, especially after her side gave up 59 points in the opening half in Hofstra's last game against William & Mary.
"We just really shut down their post play," said Kilburn-Steveskey. "Marie [Malone] is obviously an excellent defender and her hitting those boards was nice. That stat [27 points given up in the first half], made me feel really good."
Hofstra out-rebounded Georgia State 58-44.
Led by junior forward Candace Bond who recorded all four of her steals in the first 11 minutes of the first half, Hofstra's pressing defense pressured Georgia State into 14 first half turnovers.
"We're a real good defensive team," said Kilburn-Steveskey. "Last couple of games though our post players have done a good job."
Georgia State improved its play in the second half, slowly chipping into Hofstra's lead, getting to within 10 points with three minutes left in the game, taking advantage of some sloppy Pride play, but not exactly worrying Hofstra.
"They've been notorious for that [coming back into games]," said Kilburn-Steveskey. "There was some heightened sensitivity there but we handled it."
Hofstra and CAA preseason favorites Delaware remain the only undefeated sides in the conference, both with 4-0 records. The Pride travels to Old Dominion for a Sunday match-up against the Monarchs at 3 p.m.
"We have different adversity, different challenges night after night," said Kilburn-Steveskey. "We got one heading down to Norfolk here so we have to keep moving like a freight train."