By Anders Jorstad -- STAFF WRITER The Hofstra Pride men’s basketball team used a late surge and a big bucket by Justin Wright-Foreman in the final seconds to propel the squad to a road victory against the University of Delaware 64-59.
News struck before the game that the Fightin’ Blue Hens would be without Ryan Daly, the team’s leading scorer and last year’s Colonial Athletic Association Rookie of the Year. Daly is out for an indefinite period of time, and Delaware dressed just nine players for the contest against Hofstra after losing by 27 points the last time the two faced off.
But Delaware didn’t miss a beat and came out strong, opening up to a 24-13 lead thanks to weak interior Pride defense. Hofstra guard Wright-Foreman came alive late in the first half to trim the deficit, but the Pride still trailed 36-28 at halftime.
Hofstra burst out of the gates in the second half. The Pride forced turnovers and got into fast-breaks, draining multiple threes to tie the game at 39-39. The two teams traded buckets until Wright-Foreman nailed a three-pointer with just 12 seconds left in the game, putting the Pride up by five and sealing their road win.
“Whatever time of the year, the bottom line is win the game,” said Hofstra head coach Joe Mihalich. “We’ve found a way. Didn’t play great, didn’t defend well in the first half. I thought our defense in the second half was outstanding, [Delaware] scored 23 points in the second half. I’m really proud of our guys for locking in there and caring about their defense.”
Hofstra initially struggled defensively to fend off Delaware’s two-big offensive front. With forwards Eric Carter and Skye Johnson often playing at the same time, Hofstra freshman Stafford Trueheart often had to guard one of them even though he was much smaller than the two Blue Hens.
“I thought [Trueheart] did pretty well,” Mihalich said. “I thought he held his own. He got beat for his first couple of rebounds, but he blocked a couple of shots. He did a good job.”
Wright-Foreman scored a team-high 32 points, 23 of which came in the second half. His three to seal the game was well defended and in front of a loud Delaware crowd, but he stepped up to the moment.
“I don’t know when they start talking about Player of the Year, but he’s certainly got to be the first name you talk about when you talk about who that could be,” Mihalich said.
There were certainly some signs of progress in the contest for Hofstra. The Pride turned the ball over just four times during the game despite averaging 12 per game for the season.
Hofstra is now 6-4 in conference play and enters a much easier stretch. Hofstra will host UNCW and the College of Charleston before taking the road to face Elon and UNCW. The Pride’s first game against the Seahawks will be on Thursday with tip off slated for 7p.m.
For Mihalich, there’s still plenty of work to be done.
“[Delaware] had every chance to win this game, we just got a little lucky.”