Men's basketball settles in and dominates Mount St. Mary's in season opener
Three starters scored double-digit points for the Hofstra men’s basketball team in their season-opening 79-61 win over Mount St. Mary’s on Friday night. The Pride was led by senior Justin Wright-Foreman, who recorded 20 points and seven rebounds, while junior Eli Pemberton and senior Desure Buie chipped in with 18 points each.
Hofstra (1-0) got off to a slow start as Mount St. Mary’s (0-2) scored the first 12 points of the game. It took the Pride almost eight minutes to score their first field goal.
The Pride quickly found themselves down 16-1, with their lone point coming from a free throw by the University of Pennsylvania transfer Dan Dwyer. The team then came roaring back, eventually completing their largest comeback since the 2015-16 season.
“Obviously a rough start. I don’t know if we’ve ever had a rougher start,” said Hofstra head coach Joe Mihalich. “Anyway, we kept our poise. I’m really proud of our guys for keeping their composure.”
Buie was the hero of the first half as he used a few spin-moves that riled up the crowd and a game-tying three-pointer with 54 seconds remaining to complete the Pride’s comeback.
Buie finished the night with five assists to complement his 18 points.
“Desure is our glue guy. He’s the one that keeps us together,” Coach Mihalich said. “He made some big shots and ended up with more points than I thought he’d get coming into the game.”
Sophomore Jalen Ray shut the door on the first half with a three pointer with 17 seconds left in the first half to give the Pride the lead for good.
After scoring their first bucket, Hofstra went on a 28-12 run in the final 11 minutes of the first half.
“We just believed in ourselves the whole way through,” Wright-Foreman said. “All we did when we came to the bench was tell each other that we have to stay positive and optimistic through the whole thing.”
“It was just a team effort,” Pemberton said. “The team started playing defense better and we bought in.”
Hofstra dominated the second half by shooting 53 percent from the field and 56 percent from beyond the arc. Pemberton scored 15 in the second half alone with Buie and Wright-Foreman scoring 13 and 12 respectively.
The Pride used multiple runs in the second half, including a 10-0 run halfway through, to pull away from the Mount.
Dwyer and graduate transfer Jacquil Taylor both made their Hofstra debuts in the season opener, combining for nine points and 16 rebounds. Taylor led the team with 10 boards. Dwyer recorded two key blocks in the first half.
“I thought Danny came in and gave us a little bit of juice,” Coach Mihalich said. “[Their stats were] a lot like the guy who just graduated last year, and that was the goal.”
“Both of them can shoot the mid-range. They work extremely hard, they get boards and they know their roles,” Pemberton said. “They’re really both good teammates.”
“They fit right in. We didn’t miss a beat,” Wright-Foreman added.
Friday night was also the “Pack the Mack” event put on by Hofstra Athletics. The event drew in a sold-out crowd of 4,645 fans, far above the 1,832 average from home games last season.
“It was just so exciting to be here in front of a packed house like that,” Coach Mihalich said. “It’s something you dream about. We’re so happy and thankful that our fans came out.”
“We go against these crowds that were the same way we were tonight,” Wright-Foreman said. “But to have it at Hofstra was amazing.”
“We love our fans, we love when they come and watch us,” Pemberton said. “It fires us up.”
Hofstra has a busy week ahead, with three games in the span of six days. On Sunday, the Pride travels to Huntington, West Virginia to play Marshall University. Tip off is set for 2:30 p.m.
Photo courtesy of Hofstra Athletics