After a stretch of seven losses in eight Colonial Athletic Association games, Hofstra finally hit a more forgiving part of the schedule and has taken full advantage. Following a blowout win over North Carolina-Wilmington earlier this week, the Pride played a solid game against Delaware and seemed in full control with a 13-point lead early in the second half.
But the Blue Hens (6-16, 2-9 CAA), led by 22 points from point guard Jawan Carter, made a run to twice pull within a point, the last time at 58-57 with 4:32 left to play. Veteran guard Charles Jenkins, who led the Pride (11-12, 4-7 CAA) with 27 points wouldn't let his team lose. Once Delaware cut it to one the first time, Jenkins scored 10 of Hofstra's next 14 points to maintain control at 70-65 with 35.6 seconds left, and the Pride went on to complete a 77-67 win.
Freshman Chaz Williams (18 points, eight rebounds, six assists) and Halil Kanacevic (16 points, six rebounds) played strong supporting roles down the stretch.
Now, the trick to keep climbing in the standings is to make a successful road trip to James Madison for a game on Wednesday. Since winning its CAA opener at Towson University, the Pride has lost four straight conference games on the road. After JMU, the next two-game homestand represents a step up in class with visits from Northeastern next Saturday afternoon and Drexel on Feb. 10. But the next two road games are at Wilmington and Delaware, where chances of winning are better.
In any case, the past two wins have given the Pride something positive to build on, and coach Tom Pecora liked how his team finished down the stretch to hold off Delaware. "You gotta win the close games," Pecora said. Referring to the conference tournament in Richmond, he added, "This is what the tournament games are going to be like at the end of the year in Virginia. This was a good experience."
Really, that's what it's about for Hofstra at this point. Keep trying to climb in the CAA standings and return to playing solid basketball like it did earlier in the year and maybe spring a surprise or two in Richmond.