Wright-Foreman's pivotal jumper lifts Pride over Monmouth
In a battle that went down to the wire, Hofstra University outlasted Monmouth University 75-73 at the David S. Mack Sports and Exhibition Complex on Wednesday night, Dec. 5.
Down 73-72 with under one minute to play, Justin Wright-Foreman took the game into his own hands. Notoriously dangerous off the dribble, Wright-Foreman pulled up for a long jumper on the left wing. He was fouled in his shooting motion, but still managed to knock down his shot and convert the free throw to put the Pride up 75-73 with 16 seconds to play.
“The poise and composure that Justin [Wright-Foreman] had to drive it hard, pull up, take the foul, the strength that he has to still make that shot,” remarked head coach Joe Mihalich. “When we had to make a play we did.”
Off a Hofstra timeout, Monmouth got the ball into the hands of redshirt sophomore Ray Salnave. The play-making guard, who finished with a team-leading 22 points, was bottled up by the Hofstra defense when he tried to drive to the rim and had to pass the ball out. Junior guard Louie Pillari ended up releasing a quality three-point shot in the final seconds from the top of the key, but the shot fell just short.
The win moves Hofstra to 6-3 on the season and Monmouth falls to 0-10.
“That was one heck of a win,” Mihalich said. “We were terrible. We did so many things wrong. We’re not machines; we’re gonna have clunkers.”
Despite Monmouth’s record, the squad hung with the Pride all night long.
“You gotta give credit to those kids,” Mihalich said. “It’s a marathon, not a sprint, and I think those guys can get it together.”
Wright-Foreman notched 30 points on the night, for his third 30-point game of the season thus far. He extended his streak of scoring in double-figures to 62 games, which is the second-longest streak in the nation. He also added seven rebounds and four assists, but uncharacteristically shot 6-for-10 at the free-throw line.
“I had to be more of a vocal leader tonight as well as put points on the board,” Wright-Foreman remarked.
The first half was a back-and-forth contest that saw six ties and 14 lead changes. Both teams shot lights-out from the perimeter in the first half, Hofstra going 9-for-18 from the three-point line and Monmouth 6-for-13. At the half, Hofstra edged Monmouth 45-43.
The Pride maintained a small lead for most of the second half, but were challenged by Monmouth’s runs. Hofstra made big plays at pivotal moments. Desure Buie knocked down a three-point shot to extend Hofstra’s lead to five with under six minutes remaining. Wright-Foreman blocked a three-point shot attempt, pushed the ball in transition and was fouled. Another big-time Buie three-point shot found the Pride up 72-71 with 2:15 remaining.
Junior guard Eli Pemberton and Wright-Foreman found much success all night long driving the basketball and getting to the free-throw line.
“You get to the line, that’s where you get your confidence back,” Wright-Foreman said. “I told Eli [Pemberton] to keep going to the basket and he told me the same way.”
Pemberton finished with 14 points and shot 7-for-8 at the free-throw stripe.
For the Monmouth Hawks, besides Salnave’s 22 points and seven assists, the squad was also led by guard Deion Hammond, who made some key three-point shots and finished with 14 points. Big-man Diago Quinn finished with 13 points and led the Hawks with six rebounds.
Up next, the Pride will have a home stand versus Rider University on Saturday, Dec. 8 at 4 p.m., where they hope to extend their winning streak to four games.
Photo Courtesy of Hofstra Athletics