Strong defensive effort leads Pride past Elon
The Pride got back on track Thursday night when they beat Elon University 67-48 to secure their eighth win in Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) play.
Although the dominant 19-point margin of victory suggests otherwise, the Pride took the win in an extremely competitive game. It wasn’t until the 16:33 mark in the second half that the Pride finally tied at 33 after trailing the majority of the first half.
The tying shot came on a Justin Wright-Foreman three-pointer, leading to a 10-point run which gave them a comfortable lead that Elon failed to truly threaten for the remainder of the game.
The reversal of scores from the first half to the second may have been in direct correlation to the field goal percentages both teams shot from the first half to the second.
While the Pride shot a mere 30 percent from the field in the first, they picked it up in the second half, nearly doubling their shot efficiency to 59 percent.
“We struggled offensively in the first half. They only had 28 points in the first half, and we had 24. We felt like we could’ve had 40 points. We just had good shots that we missed.
“We were a little too anxious. Then we just relaxed, kept our composure and made some shots in the second half,” said Joe Mihalich, Hofstra men’s basketball head coach.
Despite the tough first half for Hofstra, one Pride player stayed above the slump. Eli Pemberton notched in 17 points in the half, keeping the Pride within four despite the team’s shooting struggles.
For the game, Pemberton converted on 10 of his 16 shots, connecting on half of his six attempted three-pointers. He finished the game with a game-high 27 points, while fellow teammate Wright-Foreman added 21.
“I think that’s maybe three or four good games in a row for [Pemberton]. I just think he’s feeling really good about himself right now. He’s confident. He’s not thinking too much, just playing the game and letting it come to him,” Mihalich said.
Another Pride player with a game high on Thursday was Rokas Gustys, once again making his presence felt on the boards with 20 rebounds.
This was Gustys’ 10th career 20 rebound game in the books, and he now stands only 84 rebounds shy of the CAA’s all time leading rebounder, David Robinson.
“It’s a staggering number, 20 rebounds. That’s like getting 40 points. And he anchors our defense. We’re so good defensively when he’s in there,” Mihalich said. “I’ll tell you what doesn’t show up on the stat sheet, is how well he played defensively. He was always in position. He took away good players’ angles; he took away good players’ scoring opportunities. And so it wasn’t just his rebounding but his defense.”
For the Phoenix, Tyler Seibring led the way in scoring with 16 points, also grabbing eight rebounds to lead Elon in that category as well. Seibring was the only Phoenix player to reach double figures in points.
After holding Elon under 50, the Pride will attempt to keep their defense intact and score high as they travelled out to UNCW to take on the Seahawks just two days later.