Men’s basketball comes up short in loss to Marshall
It may have only been the second game of the season for both teams, but the Hofstra men’s basketball team and Marshall University played a tight, intense game befitting of late March. It came down to the wire, but the Thundering Herd, led by their senior duo of Jon Elmore and C.J. Burks, pulled out a 76-72 win against the Pride. The Pride was led by senior Justin Wright-Foreman, who was in mid-season form, tallying 34 points in the loss.
This loss propels the Thundering Herd to 2-0 on the season, but drops Hofstra to 1-1 in the early going.
“We were the toughest team on the floor, in a very difficult place to play,” said head coach Joe Mihalich of his team’s performance in a hostile environment in the Cam Henderson Center in Huntington, West Virginia.
One of the biggest issues Hofstra dealt with that night was their turnovers. Marshall was able to start the second half on a 12-0 run resulting from multiple Hofstra turnovers on consecutive plays. Marshall capitalized on many of these mistakes, which helped sway the momentum over to their side for much of the second half. The Pride ended the game with 20 turnovers – six more than Marshall totaled.
The Thundering Herd was also able to find holes in Hofstra’s defensive strategy as the game stretched into the second half.
In the first half, Mihalich used a 2-2-1 press, forcing Marshall to fight harder to get quality looks. In the half court, they utilized a matchup zone to mitigate Marshall’s three-point attack. This worked for the most part, as Marshall coach Dan D’Antoni – brother of Houston Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni – struggled to find good shots for his players. The Thundering Herd finished the game only shooting 29.2 percent from three.
However, in the second half, Marshall was able to find a hole in Hofstra’s zone, which led to multiple key scoring runs.
These runs were led by Burks and Elmore, Marshall’s lethal senior backcourt. The two combined for 53 of the team’s 76 points, including 28 of their 34 in the second half.
Elmore showed great ability to get to the line, hitting 8-9 free throws to make up for a tough day from the three-point line.
Burks was electric, scoring 16 of his 23 in the half. He attacked Hofstra’s zone with incredible efficiency, often catching the ball at the free throw line and using the space to drive and shoot floaters – his signature shot.
“Gotta give them credit, they made some tough shots, and answered every run we made”, Mihalich said.
Even in the loss, Wright-Foreman was not to be outdone. He scored 34 points, including 25 in the first half. His outburst vaulted him to No. 12 on Hofstra’s all-time scoring list, with 1,433 points. Much like Elmore, Wright-Foreman was able to get past his rough day from the three-point line by driving to the hoop and drawing fouls. He shot 90 percent from the free throw line, only missing one in 10 attempts.
Eli Pemberton continued to build off of a strong first game, scoring 18 points and tallying his third career double-double. He played an incredibly efficient game, shooting 8-11 from the field and 2-2 from three.
Graduate transfer Dan Dwyer added a solid contribution, grabbing eight rebounds and scoring two points off the bench. Although fellow transfer Jacquil Taylor struggled in the game, the two players have combined this season to fill the hole left by the graduation of Rokas Gustys.
The result wasn’t ideal for Hofstra, but with plenty of bright spots in their game, the Pride have a solid foundation to build on as they slowly work toward conference play.
“I’m proud of these guys,” Mihalich said. “I think if we can correct some things, we can be a pretty good team.”
After the tough loss to Marshall on the road, the Pride look to bounce back on Wednesday, Nov. 14, at home against the North Carolina A&T Aggies.
Photo Courtesy of Hofstra Athletics