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Offense struggles in loss to Wagner

By Angelo Brussich (Sports Editor)

Free throws are meant to be just that, but the Hofstra men’s basketball team struggled mightily from the charity stripe against the Wagner College Seahawks Tuesday night in a 52-44 loss at the Mack Center. In such a close match free throws become key, and Hofstra (3-6) shot just 42.1 percent on 8-19 free throw shooting. Comparatively Wagner (3-4) shot an impressive 85.0 percent on 17-20 from the line. Hofstra, still recovering from the suspension of four scholarship players, are trying to find a new identity for itself on the offensive end of the floor. “We are struggling to score right now. I don’t want to take anything away from Wagner I think they played very good defense. They are a physical team,” said Hofstra head coach Mo Cassara. “We missed 11 free throws, and if you make some of those at key times it takes the pressure off.” The Pride find themselves leaning heavily on what offensive weapons they have, and sophomore guard Taran Buie has begun to accept the challenge and lead the Pride. “I think I was pressing a little at the beginning of the game, I tried to let it come to me in the second half,” said Buie. “I didn’t shoot the ball great against SMU, but I’m just in a shooting slump so I need to get back in the gym and keep shooting.” It was a tight defensive battle from the opening tip off with neither team breaking the 10 point barrier until the 10 minute mark of the first half. Both teams could not find the bottom of the basket, with Hofstra shooting 10-27 from the field for a 29.6 percentage. Wagner shot worse, going 8-27 from the field with a 29.6 percentage. “I thought holding Wagner to 19 points in the first have was terrific. Our defense was as good as it has been,” said Cassara. “We battled for every play and we didn’t even play our best, so we have a lot of room for improvement. Unfortunately we had a lot of opportunities that got away from us down the stretch.” Hofstra relied on a balanced half of scoring, with seven of its eight players tallying a point. Senior guard, and walk on fan favorite, Matt Grogan led the Pride with six after sinking two threes in the half. “I know what my strengths are and I just try to do what I know I can do,” said Grogan. “I know I am a shooter so if there is an open shot I take it, and I have to play defense and try to rebound.” With the lack of depth on the team, walk ons like Grogan have now become an integral part of the Prides plans. “He’s (Grogan) given us a great boost offensively, when he makes a few shots,” said Cassara. “He is doing a great job in the locker room and on the bench. He is always ready to play.” Heading into the second half Hofstra held a slight 24-19 lead over the Seahawks, but a lack of a scoring attack by the Pride let Wagner come back and take the lead. After shooting just 1-7 from the field for two points in the first half, Buie got hot. Hofstra’s talisman went on a streak scoring nine straight points for the Pride to pull Hofstra to within one at 36-35. Buie finished the game leading all scorers with 16 points. That would be as close as Hofstra would get as Wagner junior guard Kenneth Ortiz scored crucial baskets for the Seahawks late in the game, keeping the Pride from coming back. Ortiz finished with 15 points. “Some days it goes in the hoop and some days it doesn’t. If you go back over the last few games we had a lot of good shots that just didn’t go in,” Cassara. “We have to concentrate on that and work on it, and put guys into a position to be successful.”

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