Five post double-digits as men's basketball advances to CAA Semifinals
Hofstra’s road to the Big Dance and Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) Conference Championship began on Saturday, March 10, at noon against James Madison University (JMU) as the Pride picked up the 76-67 win. It was a team effort across the court for the Pride, with five players posting double-digit games to move on to the CAA Semifinals.
“I think this game today speaks to how good our league is,” said Hofstra head coach Joe Mihalich. “Every game’s a battle. Every game’s a war ... They beat us the last time we played them in a heck of a game but couldn’t beat us today ... We found a way to win.”
A huge first half for Jacquil Taylor propelled Hofstra to a 37-30 score at halftime. Taylor recorded five rebounds in the first five minutes of the game, single-handedly giving Hofstra the edge over James Madison’s two. Taylor finished the day with 11 rebounds, six of which were offensive, five blocks and 16 points.
“[Taylor] has had a major impact ... He’s just been very dominant. We’re very grateful to have him,” Justin Wright-Foreman said.
“I’m just glad for my teammates. They push me every day and [I’m glad] for the coaches that gave me the opportunity,” Taylor said.
The Pride defense was strong from the start, closing off many of the pathways the Dukes tried to take to the net. The Dukes were 13-for-28 from the field and attempted only two three-pointers in the first half.
CAA Player of the Year Wright-Foreman posted only six points in the first half but was crucial in the Pride’s ability to move the ball around the court. Known for his shooting abilities and ball-handling skills, Wright-Foreman also showed off his speed. While he wasn’t hitting the shots he was putting up, Wright-Foreman maneuvered the ball to open up the court for his teammates and get around the JMU defense.
Wright-Foreman’s connection with guard Jalen Ray helped to put up six points from the three-point line off of two assists. Ray was waiting on the arc, unguarded and ready to drain another three whenever the ball was passed to him. Ray went 4-for-8 in three-pointers on the afternoon for 12 points off the bench.
“He was terrific. We don’t win the game without him,” Mihalich said. “He made big shots. He’s got nerves of steel ... He’s a terrific sixth man ... He makes us better when he goes in the game.”
With two minutes to go in the first half, James Madison gained some momentum as a 7-0 run helped chip away at the Pride’s lead and bring them back within five, but Desure Buie hit a jumper before the end of the half to send the two teams into halftime with the score at 37-30.
The Pride came into the second half off their mark, but kept things neck and neck with the Dukes, who continued to stay aggressive. A free throw from Darius Banks tied things up at 49 with under 12 minutes to go, but Hofstra wasn’t done yet.
Tareq Coburn made a big drive to the net and made the layup off of a pass from Eli Pemberton to break the tie. The Pride didn’t look back after that.
JMU got as close as within three with three minutes to play, as Banks and Stuckey Mosley posted back-to-back three-pointers but were unable to overcome the Pride’s offense and defense.
Wright-Foreman finished the game with only one three-pointer but posted four assists, two rebounds and 17 total points to extend his double-digit point streak to 85 games.
“It’s that first game,” Mihalich said. “You’ve got to get it out of your system and now that we [have], we can take a deep breath and exhale and see if we can find a way to win tomorrow.”
“Just to get this win right here definitely makes us more comfortable going into the next game,” Wright-Foreman said.
Hofstra steps back on the court Monday, March 11, at 6 p.m. to face the University of Delaware in the CAA Semifinals.
Image Courtesy of @CAABasketball