Coburn's 21 points leads men's basketball to dominant win over Elon
Domination. That is the only word to describe the high-scoring, one-sided affair in which the Hofstra men’s basketball team defeated Elon 102-61 at the David S. Mack Sports and Exhibition Complex on Thursday, Feb. 7.
Following a heartbreaking 75-61 loss at the hands of Northeastern University that ended a 16-game winning streak, the Pride was feisty and motivated, showing no mercy over an inferior Elon team.
“We approached today as a must-win game,” said Hofstra head coach Joe Mihalich. “Coming off that loss, it felt like a long, long week. We wanted to make a statement that we don’t like to lose, and we came out of the gate with a lot of fire.”
This hunger for victory did wonders for the Pride, as they put together a complete and well-played 60 minutes of basketball. The players were craving to get back in the win column after a difficult week following a rare loss.
“We were ready to get back on that court and play,” said junior guard Eli Pemberton. “We work so hard. We stick together as a team through highs and lows and we came back. I don’t like silent bus rides and we just want to get it done.”
Junior forward Tareq Coburn led the Pride in scoring for the second time this season, tallying 21 points on 7-11 shooting. Senior guard Justin Wright-Foreman was not far behind, notching 16 points and four assists, his 77th consecutive game scoring in double figures which passed Navy’s David Robinson for the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) record.
The Pride (20-4, 10-1) came out firing, outworking the Phoenix (8-17, 4-8) and converting on their first three possessions to bury Elon before the game was five minutes old.
Desure Buie opened up the scoring in the game, knocking down a deep three-point shot that rattled around the rim. On the next possession, Buie found Coburn on a cross court pass and Coburn converted to increase the lead to six. Elon gifted the Pride with another open shot and Coburn took advantage, scoring yet another three-pointer and forcing an early Phoenix timeout.
“The loss brought us closer and we now are more focused on winning games,” Coburn said. “It is all about hard work.”
That hard work showed tonight, especially from Wright-Foreman. He had ice in his veins, shooting early and often to help the Pride pull away. Already leading 18-2 in the game, Wright-Foreman pulled up from multiple feet behind the three-point line and knocked down the deep shot.
Wright-Foreman had help from his fellow starters throughout the night. Coburn was on fire in the first half – scoring all 21 of his points – a career-high. He played over 17 minutes before halftime, exiting the court to a standing ovation from the home crowd.
To close out arguably the most successful half of the season, Buie pulled up from the corner to increase the lead to 57-22. The Pride now own the record for the largest halftime lead in the CAA era.
“I am really proud of the guys,” Mihalich said. “They really came out of the gates with a lot of fire.”
During the game’s first 20 minutes, the Pride rolled out a 2-3 zone that suffocated Elon’s offense, forcing six turnovers. Elon was unable to establish an offense and struggled to thread the ball through the arms of the Pride defenders.
“Five guys worked together,” Mihalich said. “It was one heart. Every time the ball moved, five guys moved to the ball and I think we made them uncomfortable.”
The second half provided little challenge for the Pride, as they easily maintained and built upon their 35-point halftime lead. This allowed Mihalich to give playing time to some depth players that usually do not see the court, including fan-favorite Connor Klementowicz.
This ignited the crowd, culminating a night of great fan support. The Pride is still undefeated at home this season, improving to 13-0 in Hempstead.
“I think the crowd is a huge deal,” Pemberton said. “We feed off the energy of the crowd. I love seeing everyone out.”
For Elon, Kris Wooten led the way with 18 points and four assists. Tyler Seibring was limited to only six points against the Pride, after putting up 25 in the team’s last matchup back on Saturday, Jan. 12. The loss ends a hot streak for the Phoenix, who had picked up wins in three of their last five games.
The Pride next take on William & Mary on Saturday, Feb. 9, at home in a rematch of the triple-overtime game back in January. Tip-off is set for 4 p.m.
Image Courtesy of Hofstra Athletics