By Jordan Sawyer -- STAFF WRITER After a nail-biter earlier this month, the shareholders of first place in the Colonial Athletic Association met again on Thursday night at the Mack Sports Complex as the Hofstra men’s basketball fell victim to a 81-67 beating at the hand of the Huskies.
“Disappointed in the outcome, got to tip our hats to Northeastern they’re playing really well right now, great bounce, a lot of guys that can hurt you,” said Hofstra head coach Joe Mihalich after the game.
Hofstra fell two spots in the conference, first to third, in a league where eight teams all sit within two games of each other.
“Everything kind of points to one of those years where at the end there’s going to be a bunch of teams with the same record and a lot of ties,” Mihalich said.
The hot-handed Huskies came out with a vengeance as sharp shooting Donnell Gresham splashed a three-pointer 19 seconds into play to help spark a 5-0 start for Northeastern.
Both teams became deadlocked at 12 with 12:11 left but the rabid Huskies would not be muzzled.
Northeastern held a two point lead before Devon Begley hit his first and only shot of the night to put the Huskies up by five with 6:40 on the clock.
The Huskies were up by seven when Hunter Sabety was charged with a technical foul to give Northeastern two free throws and an ensuing possession.
Hofstra found themselves trailing by 10 with less than five minutes left in the first half when Justin Wright-Foreman took charge. Wright-Foreman sunk two shots within a 20 second span for his first five points of the night to bring Hofstra within three with a minute to go.
As the first half was winding down the Huskies doubled their three point lead with a big bucket from beyond the arc by Bolden Brace to send Northeastern to their locker room with 36-30 lead.
Brace tallied 12 first-half points off the bench to lead the Huskies, who shot 46.2 percent as a team from the floor.
Hofstra was able to force to nine turnovers and held on to a lead for 33 seconds but an abysmal 1-10 shooting from the three point line plagued the Pride.
The second half started the same way as the first, with a Gresham three-ball, this time giving Northeastern a nine point lead. Gresham’s bucket led to four straight connections for the Huskies who got out to an early 12-point lead with 15:21 to play.
Midway through the second half Hofstra found themselves trailing by only five as Jalen Ray spotted up for a three pointer in attempt to bring the Pride within one possession.
“Right guy shooting it, right shot, good shot, it just didn’t go down,” said Mihalich.
The miss led to a Shawn Occeus three in transition to pad an eight point lead and consequently put the game out of reach as an ensuing free throw would create a seven point deficit, the smallest of the final seven minutes.
Northeastern finished with five double-digit scorers including three double-doubles from Vasa Pusica (16 points, 10 assists), Anthony Green (14 points, 12 rebounds), and Brace (14 points, 10 rebounds).
The Huskies finished the game with a 53.2 percent mark from the field while Hofstra totaled a 39.1 percent tally led by 20 percent shooting from behind the line.
Rokas Gustys picked up another double-double on a perfect 6-for-6 night from the field to total 13 points and 10 rebounds. Gustys moved to 31st on Hofstra’s all-time scoring list.
Wright-Foreman added 20 points despite shooting 2-for-6 from deep to move into 25th place on Hofstra’s all-time scoring list.
The loss snapped Hofstra’s five game winning streak against Northeastern to split the season series.
Hofstra will travel to Delaware to face off against the Fighting Blue Hens on Saturday night as they look to move up in Colonial Athletic Association standings.