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Fresh start going sour as men's basketball drops fourth straight

By Joe Pantorno, Sports Editor


Heading into February, head coach Mo Cassara declared the season to be a clean slate for his team. After a win against Towson on the first of the month, it looked like there might be something special brewing at the Mack as the schedule wound down towards March.

Fast forward 13 days and things could not be more different.

Hofstra (8-20, 2-14 CAA) dropped its fourth in a row, this time to Delaware at home on Wednesday night.

After senior guard Mike Moore, who had 16 points on the night, hit a three-pointer to give Hofstra its first and only lead at 50-49 with 8:02 left in the game, Delaware (14-12, 10-6 CAA) finished the game on a 22-6 run as the Pride, yet again, is looking for answers on how to finish games down the stretch.

"We take a one-point lead with eight minutes left and we miss a couple opportunities to take a lead and get ahead," said Cassara. "We missed a couple of easy shots and the wheels started to come off and that's kind of been the story for us all year."

"Six, seven minutes left in the game we've been in every game or ahead and we just can't seem to finish."

Moore, who has failed to reach the 20-point plateau during the Pride's four-game skid thought his team was in good position down the stretch.

"They weren't falling for me a lot today, but [Stevie Mejia] found me and they went down and I thought the momentum had shifted at the time but we were unable to close it out," Moore said.

Delaware had the hot hand early; storming out to an 18-6 lead in the game's first eight minutes, but Hofstra did well to battle back. The Blue Hens did well to utilize junior forward Jamelle Hagins down low who used his strength and his ability to finish down low to put up some big numbers. Hagins recorded 14 points and 18 rebounds on the night, to go along with four blocked shots.

"He [Hagins] is tough," said Cassara. "We doubled him a few times pretty well and he kicked it out and forced a guy to shoot the ball and they made some shots and that's a part of gambling and playing a real powerful, big guy in the front court."

Along with a talented opponent, Cassara thought his team put itself in a bad position by struggling early.

"I thought we played poorly out of the gate," said Cassara. "We didn't have the energy and the focus we needed to compete tonight and then we found a way to battle all the way back."

In order to get back into the game early, and with Moore struggling early, junior guard Stevie Mejia stepped up and had his best shooting half of the season, going 3-5 from the field, sinking two three-pointers while recording eight points. Mejia finished the game with 10 points and two assists.

"I'm feeling fine and trying to be a leader out there," said Mejia. "We're just one win away from feeling good about ourselves."

It was field goal shooting again that caused problems for the Pride as the game progressed. While Delaware shot 45.1 percent in the game, Hofstra dropped from 9-26 (34.6 percent) in the first half, to 7-31 (22.6 percent) in the second.

Hofstra was dealt with some bad news before the game when it was revealed that junior forward David Imes would be out for the remainder of the season with an injury. Despite one of Hofstra's leading rebounders out, the Pride's rebounding margin was at -1 against a larger, more physical Delaware side.

"We're one win away from getting a little confidence," said Cassara. "And then we can try to string a couple of wins together."

Hofstra is next in action in the ESPN Bracketbuster against Siena on Saturday afternoon.

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