The Hofstra men’s basketball team scored the first eight points of its non-conference matchup against Bucknell on Saturday afternoon, but an 18-2 run by the Bison forced Hofstra head coach Speedy Claxton to call an early timeout.
"We stopped driving the basketball and were just settling for jumpers. We were taking the shots that they wanted us to take and not the shots we wanted to take," Claxton said. "Once we got back to doing what we do, it was a wrap after that."
The Pride went on a 22-6 run in the final eight minutes of the first half to earn their fourth straight victory by defeating Bucknell, 88-69, at Mack Sports Complex.
Aaron Estrada scored a career-high 24 points and had six assists and four rebounds for the Pride (5-4). Zach Cooks added 19 points and six assists.
Andrew Funk led all scorers with 28 points for Bucknell (2-7).
"We knew we were going to be a force to be reckoned with offensively entering the season, so the first few weeks of practice, we only worked on our defense," Claxton said. "I told these kids that if we buy in on the defensive end, we are going to have a really special team."
Hofstra improved to 79-16 in games in which they hold their opponents under 70 points.
After trailing 18-10 and 27-17, the Pride briefly regained the lead with 4:49 remaining in the first half when Estrada found Abayomi Iyiola inside for a layup to make the score 28-27. Iyiola (eight points) went 4-for-4 in 11 minutes off the bench in the first half.
Bucknell halted Hofstra’s 11-0 run with five straight points, but Omar Silverio had an answer. Silverio nailed a three-pointer with 3:41 left before the half that sparked a run of 11 unanswered Hofstra points. Silverio scored six of his 16 points in the first half and the Pride led 39-33 at the break.
Despite the six-point lead, Hofstra went just 4-for-17 (23.5%) from beyond the arc. It was a percentage that was not troublesome to Claxton.
"Our looks in the first half were great, we just missed shots," Claxton said. "I told the team during halftime that the shots were going to fall."
And they did.
The Pride caught fire in the second half from downtown and connected on 9 of its 15 attempts (60%). Jalen Ray, who was held scoreless in the first half, went 4-for-7 from three for 12 points. Ray gave Hofstra its biggest lead of the contest at 77-57 when he buried his third three with 7:11 left. He led the Pride with seven rebounds.
"We have a lot of firepower. It can potentially be four or five different guys a night," Claxton said. "You never know who is going to kill you. It’s going to be hard to key in on any one of them."