It was the second Hofstra basketball game that I would be attending yesterday. I took a half day off yesterday to watch the women's team rally and win an exciting contest over Marist 71-69 to take the championship of the New York Life Holiday Invitational. Shante Evans dominated the court with a twenty nine point, eighteen rebound performance for the Lady Pride. Now it was up to the men's team to provide a suitable encore in the nightcap.
The holidays are a wonderful time of year. But they are also a detriment to the attendance of college basketball games. The fall undergraduate session ended a few days earlier and there was barely any students in the Lions' Den Section last night. The overall announced crowd was a little over 1,400, but it felt less to me, especially without rowdy students to harass the Colgate free throw shooters.
The game started out with Hofstra's number one gunslinger, Mike Moore shooting away at the Raiders. Moore buried three shots from beyond the arc and the Pride jumped out to a 17-7 lead with 15:13 left in the first half. At the time, they were five of nine from the field and it looked like Hofstra, especially Moore, would shoot Colgate out of the Mack Center.
Moore had nineteen of Hofstra's thirty five points in the first half. The problem was the rest of the team combined for sixteen. On top of that, the Pride were shooting thirty percent from the field and no other player had more than five points.
The halftime event was another CYO basketball game where the teams' colors were actually the same as the Colgate colors. I had to check to see if we were at Cotterell Court in Hamilton, New York (home of Colgate University). And actually, the Raiders brought a decent rooting section with them behind their bench.
At the start of the second half, Colgate had a chance to take their first lead of the game, but Mitch Rolls would miss a jumper. It was the last chance the Raiders would have to take the lead the rest of the game. How the Pride would secure the win in the second half was possibly the most interesting dynamic so far this season.
Before the game, Bryant Crowder left the Hofstra men's team for personal reasons. He had been suspended most of the season and I happen to see in person two of the three games he played in for the Pride. Combine that with starting point guard Steve Mejia out due to a lingering hamstring problem and Hofstra had only an eight men available to play last night. It meant everyone had to step up for Coach Mo Cassara last night and they did so in the second half.
After the "Moore on Moore Violence" occurred, Hofstra started to slowly pull away from Colgate. What was once a one point lead was now, 54-43 with twelve and a half minutes remaining in the game. There were encouraging signs. Nat Lester had scored the most recent basket to put Hofstra up eleven. It was his third field goal of the second half. Also during this 19-9 run, Dwan McMillan had four points and three assists.
The Raiders would continue to hang around for the next few minutes. They actually were only down nine, 59-50 with about nine and half minutes left. It seemed the Pride wouldn't be able to shake them.
The Pride would go onto win the game 82-57. Hofstra would shoot nearly sixty eight percent from the field in the second half, outscoring Colgate 47-25 over the last twenty minutes. The most amazing stat was that Mike Moore only contributed five of the forty seven points scored in the second half. It was everyone else who "Put one foot in front of the other", to coin a famous holiday song, that gave the Pride their twenty five point win.
McLendon, the second coming of Vinnie Johnson, had seventeen points for the Pride, while McMillan had a double double with thirteen points and ten assists (with only two turnovers). Imes added ten points and seven rebounds, while Lester also had ten points and nine rebounds. And of course, Moore led the way with twenty four points.
The Pride gave the crowd a nice encore to the earlier Women's Basketball team's victory - a start to finish win. And the Pride did it as a team, despite being shorthanded. They gave their fans a nice early present before Christmas. More importantly, Hofstra gave their fans hope that they can compete in the CAA when everyone on the team plays up to their skill level.
And hope is what people, especially college basketball fans, need in the holiday season.