Men's basketball earns 12th win in a row with victory over Elon
The Hofstra men’s basketball team extended their winning streak to 12 games on Saturday, Jan. 12, with a comeback 74-71 win over the Elon University Phoenix in the new Schar Center in Elon, North Carolina. The 12-game winning streak is the second-longest winning streak since the 1966-67 season when Hofstra basketball first became an NCAA Division I program.
“We’re proud to get this win,” said Hofstra head coach Joe Mihalich. “It’s tough to win on the road.”
Senior Justin Wright-Foreman led the team with 21 points, shooting a 47 percent clip including two three-point shots.
Junior Eli Pemberton contributed with 15 points in the win.
“I thought [Pemberton’s] energy was great,” Mihalich said. “He was going after balls and keeping them alive.”
Wright-Foreman and Pemberton were both perfect from the free-throw line, going 5-5 and 7-7 respectively.
Graduate student Jacquil Taylor had his second-best shooting night of the season, scoring 13 points, sinking five of seven. Taylor also came up with big blocks and steals on the defensive side of the court.
“We just love [Taylor],” Mihalich said. “He was terrific down the stretch. He came through when he needed to.”
Sophomore Jalen Ray also came up big for the second game in a row, scoring nine including two clutch three-pointers late in the game.
“He’s got ice in his veins,” Mihalich said. “It’s no big deal to make a shot for him. He just thinks that’s what he’s supposed to do.”
Hofstra (15-3, 5-0) took a quick 7-0 lead to start the game, but Elon (5-14, 1-5) responded with a 5-0 run of their own.
From there, both teams were neck-and-neck until the Phoenix pulled away late in the first half to take an eight-point lead to the locker room.
Elon shot 52 percent from the field in the first half, compared to Hofstra’s 44 percent clip. The Phoenix also outrebounded the Pride 20-9 in the first half.
“Elon certainly outplayed us, outcoached us, for [those] first 20 minutes for sure.” Mihalich said.
In the second half, Hofstra changed their offensive scheme and were more aggressive when taking the ball to the net. As a result, the Pride drew more fouls and the fourth-best free throw shooting team in the nation used that to propel them to a comeback.
“You have to take what the defense gives you,” Mihalich said. “We thought we had some chances to drive. We thought we had some mismatches that worked in our favor too.”
With the more aggressive offense came more aggressive defense and rebounding. The Pride outrebounded Elon 23-14 in the second half which gave Hofstra more second-chance opportunities to score.
Hofstra took the lead for good about midway through the second half, but late fouling by the Pride kept Elon around up until the last seconds of the game.
Elon brought their deficit all the way down to one with 12 seconds to go in the game before fouling Wright-Foreman and sending him to the line for two shots.
Wright-Foreman hit both crucial free throws, extending the Pride’s lead to three, but there were still 10 seconds on the clock which was plenty of time for Elon to attempt a game-tying three pointer.
Their second-leading scorer, Tyler Seibring, had a wide-open look at a three pointer but hit front iron and Hofstra held on for the win.
“We just missed a defensive assignment,” Mihalich said. “We obviously need to practice that more.”
Seibring led the Phoenix with 25 points, including four three-pointers. Sheldon Eberhardt was their next leading scorer with 12 points.
The Pride now come home to face UNC-Wilmington on Thursday, Jan. 17, at 7 p.m. at the David S. Mack Sports and Exhibition Complex.