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Local Hoops: A week in review

Hofstra University #2 Candace Bond, left, looks to

Hofstra University #2 Candace Bond, left, looks to drive past Marist College #3 Natalie Gomez in the first half. (Dec. 22, 2011) Photo Credit: James Escher

For many of our locals, the season is beginning to turn in a positive direction. Hofstra is back on track after two straight wins, but has Iona on Thursday, while LIU has won two straight thanks to an explosive offense. Stony Brook was idle, but has two home games this season.

Hofstra (5-7) has found its groove offensively. The Pride crushed Colgate, 82-59, for its second straight win last Thursday. If there’s one thing the Pride can be happy about it’s the play of point guard Dwan McMillan. McMillan, starting in place of Stevie Mejia (hamstring) had 13 points and 10 assists. He had 15 points and four assists in a win over Binghamton on December 17. McMillan’s ability to get to the rim off the dribble and draw defenders has made Hofstra’s offense highly efficient. The Pride had five players in double figures against Colgate. Mejia’s absence certainly isn’t a good thing, but Hofstra coach Mo Cassara can rest assured that the offense is in good hands with McMillan. Schedule for the week: vs. Iona, Thursday, December 29.

LIU (7-6) is back to its running and gunning ways. The Blackbirds dropped Texas State, 100-84, last Tuesday for it second straight win. Junior forward Julian Boyd has caught fire recently. He had his fifth double-double of the season with 22 points and 12 rebounds. Boyd had 29 points and a career-high 17 rebounds in a win against St. Peter’s on December 17. Like Hofstra, the Blackbirds offense flows when their point guard is playing the role of distributor. Sophomore point guard Jason Brickman had 12 points and 11 assists against Texas State. Brickman’s averaging 6.3 assists this season. Schedule for the week: vs. NJIT, Friday, December 30.

St. John’s (6-5) has had a rough season. The transfer of Nurideen Lindsey a few weeks ago made things worse. But the Storm got good news last week when Amir Garrett became academically eligible. Garrett had three points in 16 minutes in his college debut, a 66-61 win over Texas-Pan American. The addition of Garrett will give the Red Storm’s coaching staff at least one player off the bench. St. John’s had been playing with just six scholarship players since the transfer of Lindsey. More good news for St. John’s is that its main players –Mo Harkless, God’sgift Achiuwa and D’Angelo Harrison– have all played well. Achiuwa has scored in double figures in four of his last five games. He had 22 points and nine rebounds against Texas-Pan Am. Harrison has scored 15 or more points in his last three games. Schedule for the week: vs. Providence, Tuesday, December 27.

Stony Brook (3-6) was idle last week but has two non-conference home contests this week. Schedule for the week: vs. Cornell, Wednesday, December 28; vs. Rider, Friday, December 30.

On the outskirts: Wagner (8-3) got all the headlines with hits 59-54 win at No.13 Pittsburgh. Any Long Islanders hoping to see Iona (9-2) will get a chance to on Thursday, when the Gaels come to Hempstead to play Hofstra. Seton Hall (11-1) is red hot, with wins over Dayton, Wake Forest and VCU this season.

WOMEN

Hofstra (9-2) is still on a tear with three straight wins. The latest was a statement-making 71-69 win over Marist at their own Holiday Invitational. It’s a big win, because the Pride’s schedule was designed to draw national attention. So far, so good for the Pride as Shante Evans was almost unstoppable with 29 points and 18 rebounds against Marist. She was named MVP of the invitational after a two-day total of 41 points and 30 rebounds. With just one non-conference game left (vs. Princeton), the Pride should have momentum on it side when CAA play begins. Schedule for the week: vs. Princeton, Thursday, December 29.

St. John’s (7-6) suffered a major blow in its 63-56 setback against Harvard last Thursday. It’s a big deal because a loss to an Ivy League school doesn’t bode well for the Red Storm’s at-large bid hopes. Grants St. John’s didn’t have point guard Nadirah McKenith (knee), but they need to find some consistency on offense while she’s gone. The good news is that Da’Shena Stevens is back on the court. She only had five points and five rebounds against the Crimson, though. Freshman forward Amber Thompson has continued her top player, however, and had 13 points and 13 rebounds against Harvard. Eugeneia McPherson has also become a regular double-digit scorer and added 14 points. Schedule for the week: vs. Boston University, Saturday, December 31.

Stony Brook (2-10) finally got that elusive second win last Wednesday, knocking off Morgan State, 65-48. It was the Seawolves’ highest point total of the season. As uplifting as the point total was, Stony Brook coach Beth O’Boyle has to be pleased with her team’s defense. Morgan State shot just 32 percent from the field and committed 22 turnovers. Morgan State was the eighth opponent Stony Brook has held to 55 points or less. Sam Landers and Kellie Krueger found the range with 13 points each. Schedule for the week: vs. Youngstown State, Tuesday, December 27.

On the outskirts: LIU (10-2) just keeps rolling, while Seton Hall (7-6) has hit a bit of a dry spell. Fordham (7-4) also continues to play well.
 

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