Hofstra guard Jalen Ray goes up for a dunk against...

Hofstra guard Jalen Ray goes up for a dunk against Fairleigh Dickinson on Monday, Nov. 30, 2020. Credit: Len Skoros / HOFSTRA UNIVERSITY

The world has changed since the last time the Hofstra men’s basketball team hosted a game at David S. Mack Sports and Exhibition Complex.

That sort of statement usually carries a sense of assumed hyperbole, but not in 2020.

When Hofstra last laced it up for a game on the Hempstead hardwood, fans were in attendance and the Pride were primed for a successful run at the CAA Tournament title and a berth in the NCAA Tournament. That was Feb. 29.

Less than two weeks later, the NCAA Tournament was canceled because of concerns about the COVID-19 pandemic. Hofstra had earned a spot in a tournament that would never be played.

Fast-forward to Monday night — four days after Thanksgiving and a world away from February. No fans were in attendance as Hofstra beat Fairleigh Dickinson, 73-58, in a non-conference game.

"There were no fans at all, so from the jump, it’s us together," said Tareq Coburn, who had 21 points. "We have to piggyback on each other, communicate a lot. The bench plays a huge role for us. If you’re down a couple points, there are no fans to keep you going, no defensive chants. At the end of the day, it’s all us."

Isaac Kante added 16 points and nine rebounds and Kvonn Cramer had 12 points and 10 rebounds for Hofstra, which outscored Fairleigh Dickinson 42-18 after halftime.

Hofstra acting head coach Mike Farrelly shouts instructions from the...

Hofstra acting head coach Mike Farrelly shouts instructions from the sideline on Nov. 30, 2020. Credit: Len Skoros / HOFSTRA UNIVERSITY

Down nine points at the break, Hofstra (1-1) pulled away in the final 13 minutes of the second half, putting together an 18-1 run.

Cramer’s dunk with 13:21 left gave Hofstra a 47-46 lead. Seven minutes later, Cramer’s layup pushed the Pride’s lead to 12 points.

Hofstra shot 50% from the field in the second half and made all five of its free throws.

"That’s the way we need to play," acting head coach Mike Farrelly said of the second half.

The big finish erased the memories of a somewhat hapless first half. After a promising start in which the Pride led by 10 points with 13:53 left in the half, Hofstra endured a field-goal drought of 9:37 that turned a potential blowout into a 40-31 halftime deficit.

"We weren’t bearing down on defense," said Farrelly, who earned his first career win. "We didn’t match their intensity. We were getting beat off the bounce a lot early on . . . I guess they got the message at halftime. Second half, FDU shot 6-for-24 and we had that energy. It was a good learning experience for us."

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