For a few minutes at halftime, it seemed there might be a glimmer of light at the end of the dark tunnel Hofstra's basketball program has entered since four players were suspended from the team after being charged in a series of campus burglaries. The Pride had a five-point lead over Wagner, and coach Mo Cassara told his players they hadn't even played their best.
But that light turned into the proverbial train as Wagner won, 52-44, last night at the Mack Sports Complex after opening the second half with a 17-5 run.
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On the one hand, it wasn't as bad as the 24-point beating the Pride suffered in the 26-point home loss to SMU after the scandal broke. But it was a fourth straight loss for Hofstra (3-6), and when you consider Wagner (3-4) won on the road while shooting 32.1 percent, making only 1 of 9 three-pointers and committing 16 turnovers, you begin to understand how poorly the Pride played in the second half.
"The kids battled," Cassara said. "In the second half, a lot of opportunities got away and [the Seahawks] hit some tough shots. We're struggling to score the last two games."
Wagner's 17-5 run covered more than a nine-minute span before Taran Buie's three-point play at 10:31 cut the deficit to 36-32. Buie, who led all scorers with 16 points, had 14 of 15 Hofstra points between a layup by Moussa Kone with 16:28 left and a jumper by Stephen Nwaukoni with 2:04 left. "It's not any burden," Buie said of the scoring load. "The ball wasn't going in for a bunch of guys."
Hofstra's second-leading scorer was senior Matt Grogan, a walk-on, who has played limited minutes. He made two threes in the first half and missed his only attempt in the second while tying his career high of seven points. "I know my strengths," Grogan said. "I'm not going to step out of my frame. I'm a shooter, and I play defense."
Cassara said he has to "find ways" to get more scoring from his big men. After a game at LIU on Saturday, there is time in the schedule to practice and look for the best way forward.
"It's still early," Buie insisted. "We've got a core of veteran guys. We can win a lot of games if we practice hard."