If effort were enough to counter the force of negative momentum in a season going downhill fast, Hofstra might have turned things around by now. But effort has to be accompanied in full measure by execution, and that's where the Pride keeps tripping over its own shoelaces.
The downward trend continued Saturday afternoon at the Mack Sports Complex in a 57-50 loss to Towson. The game was eminently winnable had Hofstra converted more of the 20 turnovers it forced or made foul shots in the second half or gotten a better shooting performance from slump-bedeviled Taran Buie, who went 0-for-11.
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But after Hofstra put together an 18-3 run to take a six-point second-half lead, all those factors conspired to leave the Pride (6-20, 3-10 CAA) with its ninth loss in the past 10 games. The fact that six of those losses have come by single digits only increases the frustration quotient.
"We've had a lot of frustrating, close losses," Hofstra coach Mo Cassara said. "I keep telling the guys we just have to play well for a couple days in March and we'll forget a lot of these."
Cassara is trying to hold his team together until the seven-team CAA Tournament, in which they could be the team lying in the weeds to spring an upset. But the Pride must find some offense, and that's tough with Buie in a funk. In seven games since his career-high 29-point game against Drexel on Jan. 23, Buie has made only 17 of 83 field-goal attempts.
Trailing by 10 with 4:03 left, Cassara subbed Buie out and never brought him back. "That's the challenge of being a coach," Cassara said. "Sometimes you've got to push, sometimes you've got to yell, sometimes you've got to hug. We're going to try and do all those things. If he makes some baskets for us, we're a dangerous team."
Point guard Stevie Mejia led Hofstra with 13 points and had seven steals, but his six turnovers negated the positive.
Moussa Kone (11 points) and David Imes (eight points, six rebounds) each scored six points in the 18-3 run that gave the Pride a 29-23 lead early in the second half.
But that's when forward Jerrelle Benimon (17 points, seven rebounds), the likely CAA player of the year, asserted himself for Towson (15-13, 10-5). He scored eight points in a 21-5 run that restored a 44-34 lead for the Tigers.
"He's just very crafty," Imes said of Benimon. "I'll say he knows how to use his body. He found ways to push off without letting it be seen, but he's a good player."
Freshman Jordan Allen added nine points for Hofstra. Towson got 11 points and eight rebounds from Bay Shore product Marcus Damas.
If the Pride hadn't missed nine of its first 12 foul shots in the second half, it might have been able to pressure Towson for the lead.
"We've got to do a better job of converting, whether it's making free throws or getting a breakaway," Cassara said. "If we make four or five of those tonight, we win the game. It's simple as that."