By Frank Aimetti - Staff Writer Junior swingman Ameen Tanksley simply couldn’t miss in Hofstra’s 88-74 victory over Norfolk State. That is, from anywhere other than the charity stripe.
Tanksley finished with 30 points on a sterling 9-9 from the field and 5-5 from 3-point range with his only misses on the night coming from the free throw line, where he finished 7-9. Ameen paced the Pride offense to yet another high-scoring outburst where Hofstra simply overwhelmed Norfolk State with their high-paced and up-tempo offense. Brian Bernardi and Juan’ya Green also chipped in with 17 and 18 points, respectively, to push the Pride to their fifth win of the season.
On his big night, Tanksley simply stated, “During shootaround, I was feeling good with myself and I told myself, that if I get open looks, I’m going to make them because I knew from the beginning that I was going to make a lot of shots today.”
He certainly did exactly that, as did the rest of the Pride, who finished the game on 52.2% shooting from the field and 56% from beyond the arc with their shooting display helping to overcome Norfolk State’s RaShid Gaston’s outburst of 28 points and 10 rebounds.
Hofstra opened the game with a Brian Bernardi triple, which served as the first of many jumpshots to fall on the night, spotting the Pride an early lead. Nevertheless, after a quick start, Hofstra suffered a scoring drought that saw them score only 2 points in five minutes and relinquish the lead to Norfolk State. This was a game of runs however and a 10-0 run, sparked by Tanksley’s hot shooting, gave the lead back to Hofstra heading into the half.
In a game where Hofstra’s primary big men, Rokas Gustys and Moussa Kone, were missing due to injury, it was Tanksley’s versatility that allowed the Pride to prevail. Tanksley spent the majority of the game scrapping down low, playing out of position at the Power Forward and Center positions, because of the rash of injuries that struck the Hofstra frontcourt.
“They can’t guard me off the bounce and they can’t stop me from getting my shot off,” Tanksley said referring to the advantages of playing Power Forward and Center, despite being undersized.
The beginning of the second half bore a heavy resemblance to the first half with Tanksley carrying the offense to start. Yet Norfolk State refused to become discouraged despite the hot shooting and continued to pick apart the Hofstra defense to find the open man. Hofstra broke the game open with help from Brian Bernardi’s sharpshooting from beyond the arc, as well as Juan’ya Green’s relentless drives towards the rim, which earned him a game-high 14 free throw attempts.
In the end, Hofstra’s deadeye 3-point shooting and massive free throw advantage, 37 attempts for Hofstra to only 10 for Norfolk State, served to be the difference. Dion Nesmith’s smooth step-back jumper with 1:45 to go served as the dagger, spotting Hofstra a 12-point lead which only grew as the game came to a close.