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Furious fourth-quarter comeback falls just short against Elon

Despite a spirited surge in the final quarter to turn a 21-point deficit into just a two-possession game, the Hofstra women’s basketball team couldn’t complete what would have been a monumental comeback, falling to Elon University 72-65 at the David S. Mack Sports and Exhibition Complex on Friday night.

“Great fight by our team here, in every quarter except the first,” said Hofstra head coach Krista Kilburn-Steveskey.”

The first quarter was the Achilles’ heel of the Pride on Friday, only hitting two shots and falling behind the Phoenix, 23-5. Elon knocked down five three-pointers in just the first frame alone.

“We let them shoot too many threes,” Kilburn-Steveskey said. “We just played a little bit too flat.”

Throughout the second and third quarters, the deficit grew to 21 points. Heading into the final quarter, Hofstra was down by 16 points and things didn’t look good for the Pride, who came into Friday night riding a six-game losing streak.

But something started to click for Hofstra in the fourth quarter. The open threes and offensive rebounds that had plagued the Pride’s defense in the early going started to become less frequent, replaced by stops.

On offense, the shots began to fall. Heading into the final quarter, Hofstra was shooting just 30 percent from the floor, and only E’Lexus Davis was shooting 50 percent or more, individually.

As the minutes ticked away, it was Aleana Leon who had the absurdly hot hand for the Pride. The senior had been held to just three points entering the fourth quarter, but she knocked down four three-pointers in the final frame, finishing with a team-high 17 points.

Hofstra clawed and clawed, using an 8-0 run to cut a 17-point Phoenix lead to just nine points, 59-50 with 5:35 left to play. After an Elon bucket, Olivia Askin knocked down a three, and the lead was down to just eight points.

Unfortunately, time was not on the side of the Pride on this one. Hofstra managed to cut Elon’s lead down to just five points with under a minute to go, but with the clock winding down, the Pride had no choice but to send Elon to the line.

The Phoenix were able to ice it at the line, using one or two more stops to keep Hofstra from pulling the upset. One final Leon three-ball cut the lead to five points yet again, 70-65, but it was just a little too late. Elon hit two more at the charity stripe and the final buzzer sounded with Hofstra on the losing end for the seventh consecutive contest.

In addition to Leon’s 17 points, the Pride also got a solid night from Davis, who was plugged into the starting lineup and scored 15 points, 12 in the first half. She was a huge part of keeping the Pride in the game when most of her team’s shots weren’t falling. Marianne Kalin added 12 points.

For Elon, it was a very balanced offensive attack that proved so hard for Hofstra to handle. Four members of the Phoenix scored in double-figures, led by Malaya Johnson with 14 points. Johnson also added 10 rebounds.

Hofstra will look to snap this losing streak on Sunday afternoon when they play host to Towson University. These two teams last played on Feb. 9, with the Tigers walking away with a narrow 72-70 victory. Tip-off is set for 2 p.m.

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