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Loss ends Hofstra career for Lester

By Joe Pantorno , Sports Editor

RICHMOND,VA - With 1:59 left in his collegiate basketball career, you could tell Hofstra senior forward Nathaniel Lester's mind was wandering.

 Just seconds earlier, with a two-on-one opportunity developing, junior guard Stevie Mejia opted to attempt a twisting lay-up rather than passing to Lester for the easy basket. Mejia was fouled and was on his way to the free throw line.

It would not do much help no matter how many free throws Mejia made. Hofstra was on its way to the worst loss in the history of the Colonial Athletic Association postseason tournament, and 85-50 loss to Georgia State.

At that moment, Lester looked off. Obviously only he knew what was going on inside his head, but on his face was a look of disbelief.

Just a year earlier, Hofstra was the third seed in the CAA Tournament, just two wins away from the NCAA Tournament after a loss to Old Dominion in the semi-finals.

For Lester, last season was a year of rehabilitation as he missed the Pride's campaign due to a quadricep injury. He was given a medical redshirt as he began a long road of healing.

"I learned a lot from sitting on that bench last season," said Lester.

Of course, it would have been a sweeter goodbye if he enjoyed a senior season that included 21 wins, victories over George Mason and Drexel with an opportunity to win the CAA for the first time in program history.

Instead, he spent that magical season working. Working to get back into Division I NCAA basketball form and become an integral part of the Pride.

He did it.

"I was excited to get back out there," said Lester. "I was itching to play some basketball."

Well, we know how this season went: as the bitter end of a great college career.

"Definitely as a senior, you don't want to go out like this," said Lester. "We had a tough year. Couple guys got hurt, we had some ups and downs, but this is definitely not the way I wanted to finish, but you have to move on."

After scoring 1,139 points in his career, Lester was asked to reflect back on what he was going to look back most fondly on at his years at Hofstra.

He paused, looking deep in thought.

"I came to Hofstra, got a great education, graduated early and met a lot of great people with a lot of character here," said Lester. "That's what I'll remember most -- and all the good times I had on the court."

Senior Nathaniel Lester played his final game for Hofstra in the Pride’s 35-point loss to Georgia State. Lester spent his fourth year rehabbing an injury while maintaining a fifth year of eligibility. (Cody Heintz/The Chronicle)

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