Two days after a daunting game against national power Kentucky, there were questions about how much Hofstra had left and where exactly it stood. The answers were emphatic: a) plenty and b) clearly on top of Long Island.
Hofstra took ownership of Nassau-Suffolk lock, stock and barrel with a 96-58 throttling of Stony Brook at home Tuesday night, starting strong and keeping on going.
“It had a little bit of a hangover possibility written all over it,” Hofstra coach Joe Mihalich said. “We had that big game Sunday, it was on national TV, it was at Barclays Center and all that stuff.”
Rather than being a hangover, it was like New Year’s Eve for the home team, which jumped ahead 17-4 and eventually led by 43 in the third meeting since the series was renewed — after the previous two games were split and were nail-biters. The 96-73 defeat against Kentucky Sunday did not sap Hof stra’s players, it energized them.
“It was a great experience, especially playing against that group of guys, who are potential first-round draft picks in the NBA,” said Justin Wright-Foreman, who had 14 points against the nation’s No. 6 team.
“It was a great all-around experience for all of us. We just had to embrace the moment and we had to pick up where we left off.”
He did just that, scoring 16 of his game-high 22 points in the second half Tuesday night, when Hofstra (7-5) built on its 20-point halftime lead.
Stony Brook (3-7) also was coming off an emotion-drenched game, a close loss to Rutgers and former Seawolves coach Steve Pikiell on Saturday. But the real problem Tuesday night, coach Jeff Boals said, was missing 13 of its first 15 shots. “We’ve been down in other games, but this is the first time all year we didn’t show the fight or the grit to compete,” he said. “That was disappointing.”
When the Seawolves missed, they rarely got second chances. Hofstra dominated the boards, 59-30. At one point, Pride center Rokas Gustys had 16 rebounds to Stony Brook’s 18. Boals said Gustys looked like “a man against boys.”
The junior, who had 11 points and 18 rebounds in 27 minutes, said, “I think that Kentucky game really helped us and got us prepared.”
Teammates Eli Pemberton (18 points), Ty Greer (14), Deron Powers (13) and Brian Bernardi (11) also were double-figure scorers.
The one standout for Stony Brook was freshman guard Michael Almonacy, who had 15 points. As a Brentwood native, he also had a keen sense for the occasion.
“It’s a big rivalry for us Long Island kids. Stony Brook in the red against Hofstra in the blue, it’s just a big game,” he said. “I’m looking forward way more to next year because we just got blown out by them.”
On the Hempstead campus, the feeling was totally different.
“The biggest thing coming out of Sunday was we really learned how to prepare for somebody,” Mihalich said. “These guys were even saying before the game, ‘Let’s prepare for every game like it’s Kentucky.’ I think we carried it over.”