Every day last season, the matchup to watch at Hofstra practices was at point guard. Senior star Juan’ya Green would go against Deron Powers, the transfer from Hampton who was sitting out.
That competition is bringing dividends this season.
Green was the 2016 Colonial Athletic Association Player of the Year and Hofstra won 24 games and made the NIT. Now, with Green gone and Powers running the point, Pride coach Joe Mihalich said: “It’s a pretty tough act to follow, but we’re not missing much of a beat.”
Powers had his best game in a Pride uniform last night with 21 points, including four three-pointers, eight assists and only one turnover as Hofstra trampled Siena, 84-64, before 1,674 at Mack Sports Complex.
“I think it was my best shooting game,” said Powers, who was 7-for-13 to reach his season high in scoring. “I’m more impressed with the one turnover [because] that’s what I try to do.”
During his 35 minutes, Hof stra (8-5) outscored the Saints by 27 points.
He already was in a critical role when the season started, but then backup point guard Desure Buie was lost to a season-ending knee injury in the eighth game. Powers has to put even more into every minute he’s on the floor now.
“They’re more important now; with him hurt, I have to take those minutes,” Powers said. “It’s more important for me to take over during them.”
“Deron is more aggressive. He’s being a leader, the leader that we need,” said Justin Wright-Foreman, who had 16 points and shot 5-for-9. “I didn’t really expect this, but a lot of hard work and dedication has gone into this. I’m proud of him.”
Eli Pemberton had 13 points, Brian Bernardi added 11 and Rokas Gustys had 10 points and 15 rebounds for his fifth double-double of the season.
Powers looked determined to leave his mark on the contest from the outset, pushing the pace early and helping stake the Pride to a 27-11 lead midway through the first half. He had eight of his 11 first-half points and two of his four assists in a 16-4 burst for the 16-point bulge.
He started it with an impressive burst of speed through the center of the Saints’ defense for a three-point play and added a driving reverse layup in transition and a three-pointer.
After Siena got the margin to single digits, he brought the hammer down in the second half, hitting a pair of three-pointers in a 9-0 burst for a 55-37 lead with 13:44 to play.
“He’s doing fabulous,” Mihalich said. “Down in Florida [in a November tournament], he showed the players and coaches that this is his team. You just have to give him the ball and let him run the team. He’s been just sensational.”