By Nick Mazzarella - Staff Writer Hofstra’s late second-half surge wasn’t enough on Saturday night, as the Pride fell to Columbia on the road, 82-77.
Hofstra trailed by 10 with 4:34 left as they played its first game in 10 days. The Pride pulled within two, but Columbia didn’t allow it to get closer than that.
“I thought the team that made the winning basketball plays down the stretch won the game,” said head coach Joe Mihalich.
Columbia (6-3) was led by Maodo Lo, who tied a career high with 29 points (10-21, 7-15 3FG). He also had a game-high-tying 7 rebounds.
“He’s as good as anybody we’ve seen, whether it was NC State or anybody else we played,” said Mihalich. “And he proved that tonight.”
For Hofstra (7-3), Juan’ya Green had 19 points, four assists, and six rebounds. Ameen Tanksley (18 points), Dion Nesmith (18 points), and Malik Nichols (10 points) also scored in double figures.
Both teams were launching from behind the arc early. 18 of Columbia’s first 20 points were threes, while Hofstra missed its first six three-point attempts. Despite their early shooting woes, the Pride trailed by only six, 20-14.
Nesmith, who started for the first time this season, carried the Pride early on with 13 points in just over 10 minutes. But after committing his second foul with 8:41 left, he took a seat for the rest of the half.
“Starting Dion gave us a little more firepower offensively…It made us small,” Mihalich said. The Lions’ largest lead in the first half was six, 27-21, but Hofstra closed the half on a 17-7 run, entering halftime with a 38-34 lead.
Coming out of the break, Columbia scored the first five points to regain the lead, 39-38. It remained a one-possession game until Lo hit a three with 10 minutes left to give the Lions a 56-51 lead. Lo caught fire, scoring 14 points (5-6, 4-4 3FG) over a 3:38 span, extending Columbia’s lead to 69-61.
Facing its largest deficit of the game at 73-63, a jumper by Tanksley and two three-point plays by Green – a three and a shot inside the arc with-one – comprised an 8-0 Hofstra run that cut the Lions’ lead to 73-71 with 2:15 left.
On the ensuing possession, the Pride forced Lo into a tough corner three, which ricocheted off the side of the backboard to an unguarded Columbia player right under the basket, who laid it in for an easy two. Hofstra never came within one possession again, and the Pride saw its four-game winning streak come to an end in Upper Manhattan.
“They made the plays down the stretch. That’s why they won the game,” said Mihalich. “We didn’t...We had our chances. So they win, we lose, and they deserve it.”
The Pride play at home this Tuesday, Dec. 23, for the first time in three weeks against La Salle at 4:00 p.m.