By Zack Penn -- STAFF WRITER Hofstra men’s basketball blew an 18-point first half lead Saturday at TD Arena en route to a frustrating 76-70 loss at the hands of preseason Colonial Athletic Association favorite College of Charleston.
“We played 30 pretty good minutes of basketball,” said Hofstra head coach Joe Mihalich. “In the end we didn’t do the things we had to to pull it out.”
Junior Justin Wright-Foreman kept things close, scoring 15 of the Pride’s 30 second half points and 26 on the game. Unfortunately, the dynamic combo guard could only do so much as the rest of the team shot just 5-for-15 in the second half.
Making matters worse, Charleston’s guards began to pick holes in the Pride defense as the game wore on, getting to the rim at will and drawing an abundance of foul shots that ultimately made the difference in the game.
Charleston senior Joe Chealey took advantage of the lackadaisical defense, almost single-handedly outscoring the Pride in the second half as he racked up 26 of his 33 points on the day.
Chealey appeared unstoppable, driving to the lane at will without a single Hofstra defender capable of stopping him. He went 14-15 from the free-throw line in the second half.
Hofstra actually did well in scaring a solid shooting team away from the three point line. The Cougars shot just 17.6 percent from beyond the arc as Hofstra defenders flew out on closeouts. However, those closeouts allowed the quick-thinking Charleston guards clear driving lanes that they capitalized on time and time again.
Hofstra has proven this season that they are ready to compete for a conference championship and games like this show that though they are close, they still have a lot to work on.
College of Charleston was picked to finish first in the CAA this season, yet it was the Pride who came into today tied for first place in the league with Northeastern University and the College of William & Mary. If Coach Mihalich can help clear up some of the obvious mistakes that plagued them in the second half, Charleston better watch out when these two meet in Hempstead later on this season.
Hofstra (12-8, 5-3 CAA) will look to rebound at home Thursday night at 7 p.m. in an important showdown against a Northeastern team they narrowly defeated earlier in the season.