Wright-Foreman's record-setting night leads the Pride to win over W&M
“Whenever you have the William & Mary game you just know it’s going to be like it was today,” said Hofstra men’s basketball head coach Joe Mihalich.
Mihalich’s words rang true in the Hofstra men’s basketball team’s 93-87 comeback victory over the Tribe of William & Mary in the sold-out David S. Mack Sports and Exhibition complex on Saturday night, Feb. 9.
“We were down ... we were close to being out,” Mihalich said. “This team just has a will to win and they have a ‘refuse-to-lose’ mentality.”
“I couldn’t be more proud of these guys,” he added.
Senior Justin Wright-Foreman set records by scoring 48 points in the game.
“I can’t think of [another] performance like that,” Mihalich said. “Every bucket was hard. As you’re coaching you also try not to be in awe. [Wright-Foreman] was not going to let us lose the game.”
His 48 points are a Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) record for points scored in a conference game. It is also the most points scored in Hofstra’s Division I history.
With that total, Wright-Foreman passed Speedy Claxton to become No. 7 on Hofstra’s all-time scoring list.
“I’m kind of at a loss [for] words right now,” Wright-Foreman said. “I just gave [Claxton] a hug [after the game] and just said thank you.”
Thirty-two of Wright-Foreman’s 48 points came in the second half alone, helping propel Hofstra back from as much as a 10-point deficit early in the half.
“I just saw that we were down,” Wright-Foreman said. “My teammates just kept pushing me the whole time and coach trusted me with the ball. The shots just happened to fall, and it turned out to be a good night.”
Graduate student Jaquil Taylor also chipped in with 11 points and 15 rebounds, his third double-double of the season.
“It was really just doing what my teammates needed me to do,” Taylor said.
“[Taylor] was incredible,” Mihalich said. “He’s just playing great, great basketball. I’m so proud of him.”
Taylor also had the difficult task of defending the Tribe’s leading scorer Nathan Knight.
“Let’s just say it’s not easy,” Taylor said. “He’s a very good player. He’s very talented. I was just trying to do the best I could.”
“He’s a load,” Mihalich said. “I felt like we couldn’t touch [Knight]. They felt like they couldn’t touch [Wright-Foreman] so maybe it balanced out.”
Senior Desure Buie scored 16 in the win, dishing the ball out six times. Junior Eli Pemberton ended the night with 12 points and five assists.
William & Mary (9-16, 5-8) led for a majority of the first half, taking a 44-40 lead to the locker room.
“I felt like our energy was down,” Wright-Foreman said. “In the second half, that’s when everybody started turning it on. We just had to stay optimistic.”
The Tribe came out strong in the second half as well, scoring the first five points to extend their lead to nine and forcing Hofstra to take a timeout.
That’s when Wright-Foreman had enough.
The Pride (21-4, 11-1) crept back to take the lead with about seven minutes remaining in regulation, led by Wright-Foreman making some impossible shots.
The Tribe shot 58 percent from the field, while Hofstra shot 52 percent. The Pride hit 82 percent of their free throws, led by Pemberton’s perfect 8-8 mark from the line.
Knight led the Tribe with 39 points and 14 rebounds. Justin Pierce scored nine for William & Mary.
A total of 4,208 Hofstra fans filed into the building to cheer the team on.
“The crowd won the game for us,” Mihalich said. “They were unbelievable. The student section was terrific. It motivated us. We couldn’t let them leave unhappy.”
“It was good, sober energy,” he added with a laugh. “Obviously a terrific win.”
The Pride travel to Charleston next to take on the Cougars on Thursday, Feb. 14, at 7 p.m.
Photo courtesy of Hofstra Athletics