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Men’s basketball guts out victory over Siena behind Wright-Foreman and Coburn

Men’s basketball guts out victory over Siena behind Wright-Foreman and Coburn

Men’s basketball guts out victory over Siena behind Wright-Foreman and Coburn

In a game that did not go perfectly for Hofstra men’s basketball, the team was able to stave off a late run by Siena College and reach a 94-86 victory. Hofstra improves to 4-3 on the year after a heartbreaking overtime loss to Virginia Commonwealth University, and Siena slips to 2-5.  

Justin Wright-Foreman led the Pride with 28 points in a week where he was named to both the Lute Olson Award Watch List and honored as the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) Player of the Week. Wright-Foreman was a scintillating 12-for-19 from the field as he could not be stopped from finishing at the rim or knocking down his jump shots.

“He just works so hard,” said head coach Joe Mihalich. “It’s a coach’s dream when your best player is also your hardest worker.”

Coming into the 2018 season, one of the biggest questions for the Pride was who was going to handle rebounds for the team. So far this season, each night a different player has taken control of the glass. Wednesday night, junior guard Tareq Coburn was up to the task.  

“I figured we needed somebody to rebound,” Coburn said. “Since we had Rokas [Gustys] last year who rebounded everything.” 

Coburn delivered an unexpected performance for Hofstra. The guard from Rosedale, New York put up career highs with 12 points and a team-leading 14 rebounds, including six on the offensive glass. Coburn transferred from St. Bonaventure and sat out all of last year due to NCAA eligibility rules. In his freshman year at St. Bonaventure, Coburn only averaged 2.3 minutes per game and scored four points in 12 games played.

“[Coburn] wanted the basketball tonight,” Mihalich said about his player’s rebounding performance. “He was relentless and went after the ball hard. His attitude and his energy gave us the boost that we needed.” 

Stellar shooting by Hofstra in the first half, including six of 10 from three-point range, helped the Pride jump to an early advantage. The Siena Saints were able to keep it tight throughout most of the half thanks to the production of senior forward Evan Fisher inside. Fisher finished with 25 points and seven rebounds.

Hofstra rolled into halftime with a 45-37 lead. Hot shooting by junior guard Eli Pemberton and Wright-Foreman helped extend the Pride lead to as many as 20 points with 8:10 remaining in the second half. Pemberton finished in double-figures with 19 points. A 20-6 run by Siena, in which Hofstra did not score a field goal, brought the Saints to within six with 1:42 remaining.

The Siena run was led by freshman guard Jalen Pickett who scored 18 points in the second half on his way to a career-best night. Pickett finished with 27 points and dished 13 assists.

“If we are going to be a good team we can’t have those stretches that we had tonight where we were poor with the ball or poor defending,” Mihalich said. “Our defense has to get better, it wasn’t good tonight.”

Wright-Foreman answered the scoring drought with a smooth step-back jumper that put Hofstra on top 85-77 with 1:16 remaining.

Siena’s run proved too little, too late as the team was forced to foul and hope Hofstra missed at the free-throw line. Hofstra, ranked No. 8 nationally in free-throw percentage, shot nine-for-10 at the stripe down the stretch and 86 percent in the game. 

Up next, Hofstra travels to Georgia to take on Kennesaw State on Saturday, Dec. 1, at 2 p.m. The Pride is back at the David S. Mack Sports and Exhibition Complex next week for two home tilts against Monmouth University and Rider University.

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