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Freshman duo leads Hofstra over Towson

Hoftstra's Halil Kanacevic (15, left) drives to the

Hoftstra's Halil Kanacevic (15, left) drives to the basket around Towson's Robert Nwankwo (25, right), during their game at Hofstra University. (January 6, 2010) Photo Credit: Newsday/Richard Slattery

Hofstra coach Tom Pecora has been starting freshmen Halil Kanacevic and Chaz Williams for a while, so it only was a matter of time until they became comfortable enough to assert themselves. It finally happened last night as the inside-outside combo totaled 34 points in the Pride’s 77-61 victory over Towson at the Mack Sports Complex.

When Pecora sat down with his prize pair for the postgame news conference, he said, “This is the first press conference with both freshmen, but I know it won't be the last.”

Far from it. Williams scored 14 of his 16 points in the first half and made all four threes he took to extend his streak to seven straight from beyond the arc over two games. Kanacevic led all scorers with 18 points while adding 10 rebounds and five blocked shots. Charles Jenkins led the vets with 13 points, and Miklos Szabo had eight points and eight rebounds.

When this season began, both freshmen were coming off the bench, and 5-9 point guard Williams was going about 100 mph. He's more under control now, although he did have seven turnovers, and his shot judgment has improved. “In the beginning, it was hard,” said Williams, who credits roommate Jenkins with instilling his recent confidence. “You never knew what was a good shot or a bad shot. If I got it blocked, then, I’ll know. Now, it’s just play with confidence.”

Hofstra (9-7, 2-2 Colonial Athletic Association) let lowly Towson (3-10, 0-4) control the offensive boards early as the Tigers ran up a 30-25 lead. But Williams hit three three-pointers in a 20-4 run, and Kanacevic began blocking shots as the Pride took control and never let go.

The poise showed by Kanacevic in his burgeoning leadership role has been remarkable. “Coming here, it’s a whole different story ,” Kanacevic said. “We go play Kansas, and I’m nervous taking my warm-ups. But the coach is on your side, and the veterans tell me, ‘Just play your game.’ At first, you might get a little nervous, but you’ve got to get used to it.”

It hasn’t taken long.

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