Hofstra guard Aaron Estrada (1) drives on Drexel guard Luke...

Hofstra guard Aaron Estrada (1) drives on Drexel guard Luke House (14) on Monday, Feb. 13, 2023. Credit: Lee S. Weissman/Lee S. Weissman

Hofstra’s vision for a conference championship and a trip to the NCAA Tournament seems to come a little more into focus every time the Pride step on the court.

On Monday night, Hofstra cleared the last obvious hurdle standing between it and the top seeding for next month’s Colonial Athletic Association Tournament by dispatching fourth-place Drexel, 66-52, before 1,784 at Mack Sports Complex. The Pride (20-8, 13-2) never trailed and remain in a first-place tie with Charleston — with the tiebreaker by virtue of their Jan. 28 win in South Carolina.

The Pride have won eight straight games, and their final three regular-season games are against sub-.500 teams. They will host last-place Hampton on Thursday and face a road game against Stony Brook — always a potentially dangerous matchup — on Saturday.

“We know the stakes,” coach Speedy Claxton said. “Guys are locked in. You know, we’re currently in first place and we’re trying to protect that . . . win a championship.”

Aaron Estrada scored 22 points after missing a Feb. 4 win over Stony Brook with an illness and following that with a pair of 13-point performances. Darlinstone Dubar turned in the Pride’s most impressive performance with 16 points (7-for-7 shooting). He had 11 points as Hofstra raced to a 25-9 lead after 11:23.

“When he plays like that, no one can beat us — he’s the key to our team,” Claxton said of the 6-8 sophomore. “When he’s scoring early for us, it’s going to be a long night for the other team.”

Said Dubar, “Once the first shot went in, I had confidence the rest of the game.”

Dubar averages 10.3 points but had scored in double figures just twice in his previous 10 games.

Tyler Thomas had 11 points and Estrada and Jaquan Carlos each had five assists for the Pride.

Amari Williams scored 13 for the Dragons (15-12, 9-6). Drexel starting point guard Justin Moore and backup Jamie Bergens were out with injuries, and Hofstra exploited that to force 16 turnovers.

This is Hofstra’s second straight 20-win season, but Claxton said, “I don’t worry about that — we’re so focused on winning the championship. That’s what we’re worried about, not 20-win seasons, honestly.”

Claxton was asked if he likes the way his team is playing at this stage of the season and had some fun with it.

“I don’t really like it,” he said, “I love it. I love the way we’re playing. We’re playing at championship level.”

Delaware tops SBU

Despite 20 points and seven rebounds from Tanahj Pettway, visiting Stony Brook fell to Delaware, 71-60, in a CAA game Monday night. Keenan Fitzmorris had 17 points and Frankie Policelli had 12 for the Seawolves (9-18, 5-9 CAA).

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