By Joe Pantorno, Sports Editor
Hofstra has based its team around a strong offense and is very susceptible to difficulties when that offense sputters.
That was the case last Thursday as the Pride (16-7, 8-4 CAA) dropped its second straight game in a 76-60 loss to VCU.
"We didn't play Hofstra basketball," said head coach Krista Kilburn-Steveskey. "It's just unfortunate because we know how good we really are."
Going into the game, the main focus defensively for Hofstra was on VCU forward Courtney Hurt and guard Andrea Barbour. Hurt ranks second in the conference in points per game (22.0) and leads the nation in rebounding (12.9 rpg.).
Through the first half, everything was going to plan. Both Hurt and Barbour had five points apiece for the Rams (14-9, 7-5 CAA) and Hofstra had a three-point lead going into halftime despite a lack of offensive output.
"We had a great first half," said Kilburn-Steveskey. "And even though it was a great first half we could have been up 13 or 16 very easily and it was that testing waters and we realized that we could stay with them and beat them but then all of a sudden the shift of the tide goes the other way."
The second half was not as kind to Hofstra as Hurt and Barbour woke up in dynamic fashion.
Hurt scored 15 points and nine rebounds in the final 20 minutes, finishing with 20 and 15. Barbour scored 21 points in the second half, finishing with 26.
"It's crazy. You need to do what you need to do in the first half and yes, they're great players and they're going to come at you, and it was frustrating to see that we did not maintain that consistency in the second half," said Kilburn-Steveskey. "It's tough when we know we can defend them."
Hurt and VCU's ability to outrebound Hofstra might have been due to senior forward Marie Malone getting into foul trouble. One of Hofstra's defensive staples down low was limited to just 13 minutes of play.
Hofstra continued its shooting struggles from the field, going 22-71 (31 percent) and could not keep up with VCU's second half surge. The Rams scored more than double its first half output, pouring in 51 points in the second half.
"We didn't shoot the ball well and we've been down that road before," said Kilburn-Steveskey. "It is very frustrating."
Hofstra's leading scorer, junior forward Shante Evans, was held to 13 points, a team high.