Stevie Mejia's basket gives Hofstra win over Georgia State
GalleriesHofstra 52, Georgia State 50
Many times, when Hofstra had the ball, coach Mo Cassara shouted to his team: "Plenty of time!" It referred to strategy: Don't rush anything, work for a good shot and effectively shorten the game against a taller, deeper team.
"Plenty of time" also could be taken another way by the Pride: Be patient, don't focus on the nightmare behind, focus on the fact that this is a whole new season.
In the words of senior guard Stevie Mejia: "Just walking to the game, campus security said, 'New start.' Everybody in the arena said, 'New start.' "
That worked for his team, and especially for him.
Mejia's big finish made the most of that fresh start Monday night. His short jumper with five seconds left gave Hofstra a 52-50 win over Georgia State and its first breath of fresh air in a long time. It ended an eight-game losing streak. "Obviously," Cassara said afterward, "it has been a long few weeks."
Obviously, nobody involved with the team could ignore the fact that four players were charged with burglary and dismissed from the team, stripping the Pride of its depth. But all Hofstra can do now is play hard.
The Pride (4-10) played its heart out, leading by eight at halftime and hanging on in the face of a press by a team that beat Hofstra by a record 35 points in last year's conference tournament. Hofstra had many chances to fold late, but it didn't.
Taran Buie badly missed a three-pointer from one corner but hit one from the other side moments later to make it 46-42. Still, Georgia State (6-10) tied it at 50 with 18 seconds left.
Mejia, who had 17 points and was the key figure in breaking the press and keeping the Pride's composure, controlled the ball, drove to the hoop and made a short shot on a drive with five seconds left. After a timeout, Devonta White missed a three at the buzzer. "It looked good, though," Mejia said.
In the end, what looked best to Hofstra was a perfect 1-0 record in CAA play.
"None of us, coming out of high school, are used to losing," Buie said. "It's definitely not fun. It makes us go harder in practice. There's a lot of tension around to win games. After a big win like this, it kind of takes that burden off your shoulder. It's a relief. It's like missing a bunch of shots and then you see one go in. It gives you a whole world of confidence."