Hofstra basketball stays undefeated in conference play with win over UNCW
The Hofstra men’s basketball team extended their win streak to 13 games and the third-longest in the country after they took down the visiting UNC-Wilmington (UNCW) Seahawks on Thursday, Jan. 17, by a score of 87-72.
The contest featured an excellent overall performance by the Pride in the second half, improving after a disappointing first 20 minutes of play. The Pride shot 56 percent from the field in the second, and the same percentage from three, shooting 5-9 as a team. They also held the Seahawks to just 44 percent from the field as they outscored them 46-30 in the second half. This included a 16-2 scoring run over a period of 7:42.
“In the second half, I thought we did a much better job, and made it harder for them to score,” said Hofstra head coach Joe Mihalich. “I’m proud of the defensive effort in the second half and I think it was the reason we won the game.”
Junior Eli Pemberton scored a season-high 24 points going 8-15 from the field, 3-5 from beyond the arc and 5-6 on free throws, while also grabbing six rebounds.
Despite struggling heavily in the first half, senior Justin Wright-Foreman finished with 19 points, 15 of which were scored in the second half.
Junior Tareq Coburn hit four three-pointers and tallied five rebounds for the game to go with his 15 points.
Desure Buie and Jacquil Taylor filled the stat sheet, leading the game in two statistical categories each: Buie with 11 assists and four steals and Taylor with 12 rebounds and three blocks.
For the Seahawks, starters Jeantal Cylla, Devontae Cacok and Ty Gadsden all scored in double figures, with 16, 15 and 12 points respectively. Cacok also grabbed 10 rebounds, while Gadsden had three assists and two steals, additionally shooting a perfect 3-3 from beyond the arc.
In addition to the big defensive jump in the second half, the biggest advantage the Pride held throughout the game was in free throw shooting. The team went 23-26 (89 percent) from the line, compared to just 7-9 from UNCW. This disparity is what largely kept Hofstra in the game while they struggled offensively in the first half, and it was instrumental in how they built their lead in the second.
Wright-Foreman made a number of big plays in the second half.. After scoring only four points in the first half, it took him until there was 7:15 left in the game to make another field goal, but it came off an explosive alley-oop with the assist from Buie. He then hit three-pointers on back-to-back possessions for the Pride, which gave Hofstra the largest lead of the game at the time with 17.
Last year, UNCW defeated Hofstra in the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) quarterfinals, ending their season, something the Pride hasn’t seem to have forgotten.
“I’m gonna be honest, this is definitely personal,” Wright-Foreman said after the game. “This is a rivalry that we have going on, so it was our job to come out and play with that intensity.”
With the win, Hofstra’s record is improved to 16-3 for the season, and their huge winning streak continues after six games of league play. After this contest, they aim to make another statement victory just two days later when they host the reigning CAA champion Cougars of the College of Charleston on Saturday, Jan. 19, in Hempstead. Tip-off is set for 4 p.m
Image courtesy of Hofstra Athletics