By Joe Pantorno, Sports Editor
Seeing a team's statistical standing on paper is one thing; measuring momentum is something completely different. After its 93-64 victory over UNC-Wilmington on senior day Saturday, the Hofstra men's basketball team just received a surge of momentum as it entered the CAA Tournament on Friday.
"It's been a challenging year but the ball went into the hoop for us tonight," said head coach Mo Cassara. "I think we played with some great effort and energy and we sent these three seniors out on the right note."
All three seniors, playing their last games at the Mack, put together solid performances led by guard Mike Moore who scored 30 points on 9-16 shooting, six of those made field goals coming from beyond the arc.
Moore finished the season with an average of 20.0 points per game which leads the CAA.
"I was like, ‘Is it really over now?' I've been in college for five years with five coaches and I would wonder if it would ever be over," said Moore. "It's been a long trip, a lot of ups and downs, but I just stuck to it and couldn't have asked for a better senior day."
The conference's leading scorer was not the only exceptional shooter on Saturday afternoon. Hofstra (10-21, 3-15 CAA) shot 30-53 from the field, good for 56.6 percent.
"It's better late than never," said Moore. "This gives us a lot of momentum and a lot of confidence going into the CAA Tournament."
Another senior, forward Nathaniel Lester, scored 15 of his 20 points in the first half as he and Moore, who scored 17 in the opening 20 minutes, recorded 32 of Hofstra's 45 first-half points. Hitting the locker room for halftime up by 20, the game was close to being over already.
"I just wanted to give it my all," said Lester. "I've been here five years and I wanted to go out on a good note."
"We've always been confident," said Lester. "We have positive practices, speak positive to each other, but as you can see with the outcome here, we're going into the CAA Tournament with some momentum. We were clicking on the offensive and defensive end. Not a bad time to start."
Guard Dwan McMillan, who was also playing his last game at the Mack, recorded a career high 15 assists, one shy of the program record set Robbie Weingard in the 1983-84 season.
"I don't think it's hit me yet," said McMillan. "It's kind of surreal. Four years go by so quick and when you get to your senior year, just stay humble. It was a humbling experience."
Among other contributing scorers, sophomore guard Shemiye McLendon, played one of his best games of the season with 10 points and five rebounds and sophomore forward Stephen Nwaukoni had his first career double-double with 10 points and 10 boards. Junior guard Stevie Mejia also recorded double digits with 10 points as well.
Hofstra heads into the CAA Championships as the no. 11 seed and will take on the no. six Georgia State Panthers.
"We have a new season now," said Cassara. "It's a one-game season and that's what we're looking forward to with Georgia State on Friday night."