By Joe Barone - STAFF WRITER A strong start for Hofstra could not be sustained as the Siena Saints’ offense caught lightning in a bottle, beating the Pride, 81-68. The loss ends Hofstra’s three-game win streak and drops their record to 6-3 while Siena improved to 6-4.
The opening five minutes of Wednesday evening’s game in Albany was everything the Pride could have hoped for out of the gate. They battled, their transitions were smooth and offensive chances were converted.
However, things quickly became sour for the Pride after Juan’ya Green converted a fast-break layup from inside the paint, two of his uncharacteristically low 12-points in the contest.
It lit a fire under Siena, as the Saints would go on to score 12 consecutive points and snatch a lead, 24-13, that they would never relinquish.
Inconsistency was the primary issue. At some moments, the Pride showed their maximum potential. On other occasions, Hofstra seemed as if they left their game at Madison Square Garden on Sunday afternoon. They would, nonetheless, make things interesting as they chipped away with an 11-2 run of their own towards the end of the first half.
Siena had all of the answers and proved Hofstra did not. The Saints would make the necessary defensive adjustments and later took a double figure lead into halftime due to a commanding 12-4 run.
It showed Siena’s gritty and aggressive style of play, which asserted their mental and physical dominance over the Hofstra Pride. The Saints captured the majority of rebounds, they finished with a 41-34 advantage, which speaks to the physicality Siena brings inside the paint - a physicality that could not be matched.
Speaking after the game, Head Coach Joe Mihalich saw the weakness, saying, “[Siena] had more fight, they competed harder, they were tougher than us, and they did whatever they wanted to do on the court.”
Defensively, Hofstra faltered. Every time the Pride would trim the deficit, Siena would dictate the ensuing play.
Most of that can be attributed to Brett Bisping who led Siena with 22 points and nine rebounds. Marquis Wright also proved to be an Achilles’ heel for Hofstra as he managed to cash in 15 points, seven rebounds and six assists.
“At the end of the day, somebody has to contest shots and rebound the ball,” said Mihalich.
In the second half, the Pride would once again make an attempt to roar back and close the gap. Following a layup from forward Malik Nichols, two of his eight points on the evening, the deficit was sliced to seven, 47-40, with more than enough time to make a strong push for the finish line.
Comeback aspirations became more of a reality when Ameen Tanksley hit a three-pointer to shear Siena’s lead to five, 55-50. He finished with 22 points and eight boards.
However, those aspirations wilted swiftly as Siena’s toughness proved to be too much to handle. A double-digit lead for the Saints would drag Hofstra out of their focused mindset and overwhelm the Pride with a 13-point victory.
“It was our poorest effort of the season, we just didn’t finish,” said Mihalich. “We have to learn how to win [our] battles, dominate [our] opponents, and go out and prove it.”
They will have to wait until after a brief break of action to prove it, though. The Pride’s next game is Sunday, December 20 when Hofstra travels to fellow Long Island neighbor and rival Stony Brook with tip-off scheduled for 2 p.m.