At the Mack Center yesterday, a crowd of over 4,000 saw Hofstra hold on to defeat Delaware 77-67. Hofstra would lead the entire way, but it wasn't easy. The Pride moved to 4-7 in the CAA and 11-12 overall. But more importantly Hofstra Coach Tom Pecora is now fully aware of who he can count on to carry the offensive load. The given, Charles Jenkins, and the freshmen, Chaz Williams and Halil Kanacevic.
The game started off with Jenkins looking sharp from the outside by hitting two threes to put Hofstra up 6-0. But in the span of a minute, Jenkins picked up two quick fouls. The first question was "Would Pecora put Jenkins immediately on the bench? "The answer was yes as Nathaniel Lester came in for Jenkins. The second question now was, "Who was going to do the scoring for the Pride?"
The answer was Williams and Kanacevic. The two freshman would join forces and score 18 of Hofstra's 33 first half points as Hofstra would go up at the half 33-26. For the second straight game, the Hofstra defense had come out of hibernation, holding Delaware to 28 percent shooting. Jawan Carter was almost solely responsible for keeping the Blue Hens in the game, shooting 4 of 8 from the field including 3 of 6 from beyond the arc for 12 points. The rest of Delaware shot 3 of 20 from the field in the first half.
Hofstra would have a similar boxscore in the first half. Jenkins, Kanacevic and Williams combined to shoot 9 of 18 from the field. The rest of the team, 2 of 10. But for Hofstra to be up seven at the half while Jenkins only played four minutes speaks volumes of how well Kanacevic and Williams played in the first half.
The second half both offenses came alive. First it was Hofstra early as the Pride outscored Delaware 11-5 in the first four minutes for a 44-31 lead. But the Pride could not run away from the Blue Hens as Carter, Adam Pegg, and Alphonso Dawson combined for 31 of Delaware's 38 second half points.
As I was telling my friend Tieff throughout the second half, that Delaware was hanging around, the Blue Hens were doing that, usually just six or seven points down for a good part of the half. You just knew Delaware was about to make it interesting And a Dawson jumper with 5:47 did just that as it pulled Delaware with one, 56-55 .
But Hofstra's Jenkins, Williams and Kanacevic combined for 37 points in the second half and would not allow Hofstra to lose the lead. It was a really dominant second half performance by Jenkins that sealed the win for the Pride. Jenkins would have 21 second half points on 6 of 11 shooting and 8 of 9 from the free throw line.
After Dawson cut it to one, Jenkins drove the lane, got fouled and hit two free throws to put Hofstra up three 58-55. After Carter and Jamelle Hagins each hit a free throw to cut the lead back to one, 58-57, Jenkins hit a jumper and Kanacevic hit two free throws to put the Pride back up five, 62-57. However, the Blue Hens would not go away. Two free throws by Alphonso Dawson with 26 seconds left would cut the Pride lead to 70-67. However those were the last points scored by Delaware. Jenkins and Williams, who else, would score the last seven Hofstra points on free throws 77-67.
Jenkins led all scorers with 27 points on 8 of 14 shooting. Williams had 18 points on 6 of 10 shooting from the field and 6 of 6 from the line. Kanacevic added 16 points, and was 5 of 11 from the field, though he struggled a little bit from the line, going 6 of 10 from the charity stripe. Carter led the Blue Hens with 22 points, while Pegg had 11 points and Dawson added 10 (both players had all their points in the second half). Delaware was held to 35 percent from the field.
Hofstra shot 43 percent from the field (48 percent in the second half). As you can see from the previous paragraph, Jenkins, Williams and Kanacevic combined to shoot 19 of 35 from the field. Unfortunately the rest of the team - Greg Washington, Miklos Szabo, Cornelius Vine, Nathaniel Lester, David Imes and Yves Jules combined to shoot 4 of 18 from the field (22 percent).
This reminds me of the 2003-04 team that was starting to transition from the post scoring of juniors Wendell Gibson and Kenny Adeleke to the backcourt scoring of freshmen Loren Stokes and Carlos Rivera (and a year later Antoine Agudio). No longer are Vines and Lester the second and third scorers. Insert now Williams and Kanacevic as the two secondary scorers.
Thankfully for Hofstra there is one constant. Charles Jenkins. As long as they have their defense and the junior Jenkins, the Pride should be competitive. But the frosh - Williams and Kanacevic are becoming a vital part of this team. Most likely the two will only improve and that bodes well for the final seven CAA conference games and the CAA Tournament, but also more importantly for the next several seasons.