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Hofstra can't get over the hump against La Salle in second half

Hofstra guard Brian Bernardi (14) takes a shot

Hofstra guard Brian Bernardi (14) takes a shot under pressure from La Salle guard Cleon Roberts (3) and center Steve Zack (0) during a game at Mack Sports Complex in Hempstead on Tuesday, Dec 23, 2014. Photo Credit: Steven Ryan

It appeared as if Hofstra finally had momentum early in the second half Tuesday afternoon against non-conference foe La Salle. A three-pointer by Ameen Tanksley had cut the Explorers' lead to one with 16:40 remaining.

But what could have been the beginning of a comeback was, instead, the last breath of any serious Pride threat.

Immediately following Tanksley's three-pointer, a small, but effective 6-0 La Salle run sunk any hope of a Hofstra comeback. The Pride dropped its second straight game, 83-74, at the Mack Sports Complex. La Salle's Jordan Price led all scorers with 28 points. Tanksley led Hofstra with 23.

"It didn't feel like we really competed today," coach Joe Mihalich said. "It didn't feel like we were really tough. We didn't make smart basketball plays . . . "

Hofstra (7-4) was close in the second half, but never quite close enough. An inability to sink that one run-sparking shot was a dominant theme. A microcosm of this fate came midway through the second half.

After Cleon Roberts' three-pointer gave La Salle (7-5) a seven-point lead with 12:52 remaining, Hofstra orchestrated a possession in which it missed five shots. The rebounding was dominant on this trip down the floor, but the desired result never came.

"We expended so much energy getting to where the lead was one [point], that we didn't have that much room for error," Mihalich said. "I didn't think we played well from the jump. We started out the game with Malik [Nichols] missing a dunk, then we missed two foul shots, then we don't box out on a missed foul shot, then their best player hit a three."

La Salle led 44-36 at the half.

"I said at halftime that we should feel good only down eight," Mihalich said. "It felt like we were down 20."

Notes & quotes: Moussa Kone, in his second game back after missing eight with a leg injury, had eight points and four rebounds in 18 minutes . . . Mihalich is a La Salle alum and spent 17 years there as an assistant coach. It was only the third time since 1972-73 that a Hofstra coach faced his alma mater.

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