By Angelo Brussich, Assistant Sports Editor
RICHMOND, VA - According to Hofstra men's basketball head coach Mo Cassara, after his team was blown away by Georgia State in the opening round of the CAA tournament, the Panthers are primed and ready to make a run to win it all.
"Absolutely…They've got seniors, size, depth, speed…I can't credit coach [Ron] Hunter enough, their style of play is very tough to play against." said Coach Cassara.
It was not just the score that told the story. Not only did Georgia State handily defeating Hofstra 85-50, setting a new CAA tournament record with a 35 point margin of victory, but the Panthers were able to control almost all facets of the game. Georgia State dominated Hofstra in the paint, more than doubling the Pride's production down low and grabbing 35 rebounds to Hofstra's 23.
The bench play was also a major factor in determining the outcome of the game, as the Georgia State bench contributed 28 points compared to Hofstra's one.
"They had 28 points to our one, that just goes to show that we've had injuries and a short bench," said Cassara. "When their bench scores 28 and we score one, it's going to be a long night."
The game started off well for Hofstra (10-22, 3-16 CAA), keeping it close in the game's first 10 minutes, but the GSU (21-10, 12-7 CAA) defense began to overwhelm the Pride, creating multiple turnovers and allowing the Panther's to capitalize. For the game Georgia State was able to come away with 23 points off Hofstra's 15 turnovers.
"I thought we did a good job out of the gate, then we had three or four consecutive turnovers and the game got away from us," said Cassara.
The game was especially tough for Hofstra's three seniors who slowly saw their careers coming to an end in disappointing fashion.
"I really haven't had a chance to sit down and think about it yet…it's not the way I wanted it to end," said senior guard Mike Moore. "But everything has to come to an end."
Moore led the Pride with 16 points, with fellow seniors forward Nathaniel Lester and guard Dwan McMillian scoring 11 and 2 respectively.
Hofstra cut a 20 point halftime deficit to 16 early in the second half, but Georgia State kept the pressure on high to extend its lead to the mid-thirties. GSU was playing as if it had something to prove and its smothering defense and the constant offensive attack as the game went along ripped the heart out of Hofstra, and the Pride's season ended in a whimper.
"There's a learning experience in challenges, and losing and not playing well…it's how you handle the adversity," said Cassara. "We have to learn from the good and the bad."
"I feel bad for our seniors, I wish we could have had a better effort tonight, these two guys [Lester and Moore] and Dwan deserve a lot of credit. They've had to carry some young guys on their backs, I feel for these guys and the program."