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Aaron Estrada scores 20 to lift Hofstra over Princeton

Aaron Estrada, dribbling around Princeton's Ryan Langborg, scored

Aaron Estrada, dribbling around Princeton's Ryan Langborg, scored 18 of his 20 points in first half when Hofstra built a 16-point lead. Credit: Lee S. Weissman/Lee S. Weissman

Another game, another victory, and another breakout offensive performance from a Hofstra player.

Junior guard Aaron Estrada scored 18 of his career high-tying 20 points in the first half as Hofstra built a big lead and then held off Princeton, 81-77, on Wednesday night in a non-conference matchup at Mack Sports Complex.

"I felt good coming into the game," said Estrada, whose previous top scoring game came when he was a freshman at St. Peter’s. "Once I hit my first shot, I felt good, so I just kept shooting."

Omar Silverio, who on Saturday tied the Hofstra record with eight three-pointers and scored a career-high 28 off the bench in a 98-94 victory over Detroit Mercy, added 17 for Hofstra (4-4), which is 3-0 at home.

Hofstra, which scored 50 first-half points, led by as many as 18 points in each half before Princeton closed to within one with 48 seconds left.

Pride fifth-year senior Jalen Ray, who to that point was 1-for-11 (1-for-7 from three), banked in a three-pointer with 18 seconds left for the final points of the night.

"That last shot that he made — he was struggling up until that point, big time," coach Speedy Claxton said. "The fact that he took that shot in a pressure situation and made it, that speaks volumes."

Darlinstone Dubar added 15 points and Zach Cooks had 13 for Hofstra.

Princeton (5-3), which didn’t play in 2020 as the Ivy League canceled its season, had early-season victories vs. South Carolina (in Asheville, North Carolina) and at Oregon State.

"Hell of a win," Claxton said. "That’s a really, really good team. They posed so many challenges . . . I’m proud of my guys. They really defended against a really, really good, quality team."

With the victory, Hofstra took a 4-3 lead in an all-time series that dates to 1955-56. Hofstra won that one, too.

The game promised to be a high-scoring one from the start with Princeton averaging 79.1 points per game and Hofstra at 77.4.

But it was Hofstra that lit it up early as the Pride hit 20 of its first 30 shots en route to a lead that grew to as much as 18 (48-30) and was still 16 (50-34) at the half.

Estrada lit the fuse by hitting a mid-range jumper for the game’s first points. He shot 8-for-10 (2-for-3 on three-pointers) in the first half, but was just 1-for-5 (0-for-1) in the second. Estrada was the only player to play all 40 minutes.

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