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Desure Buie, Jalen Ray help Hofstra erase two big deficits and hold off Northeastern

Hofstra guard Jalen Ray gets a layup against

Hofstra guard Jalen Ray gets a layup against Drexel during the first half of a CAA men's basketball game at Mack Sports Complex on Saturday, Jan. 25, 2020. Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

Hofstra celebrated the 20th anniversary of the team that won its conference and claimed an NCAA Tournament ticket, giving away T-shirts Saturday in honor of star Speedy Claxton in conjunction and showing videos of a few teammates and then-coach Jay Wright reminiscing.

It turned out to be a very happy anniversary celebration.

The current version of Hofstra men’s basketball claimed a 75-71 win over Northeastern in front of 3,835 fans at Mack Sports Complex and moved into first in the CAA.

But it was the way the Pride (18-7, 9-3) won their fourth straight that stood out.

The 2019-20 team wants to do what that 1999-2000 team did. Hofstra fell behind Northeastern 20-4 and still wasn’t looking the part when it was down 14 with 16:46 left. But the Pride staged a stirring comeback, showing the resilience of a championship-caliber team.

“A lot of people in that building probably thought a lot of times in that first half, it just wasn’t our day,” coach Joe Mihalich said. “We were listless. They get the big lead. They were making shots. We were missing shots. It didn’t seem good. That’s the resolve of this team.”

Desure Buie scored 19 of his 22 points in the second half and fellow guard Jalen Ray scored 17 of his 22 after the break. Eli Pemberton added 12 points and Stafford Trueheart contributed seven points, seven rebounds and two blocks off the bench.

“They were the preseason favorite, and there’s no reason to think any differently right now,” Northeastern coach Bill Coen said of the Pride. “They’re playing at a real high level.”

Jordan Roland scored 32 for the Huskies (11-13, 5-7).

They were in charge when they took a 46-32 lead. And then they weren’t.

Buie scored 15, Ray added 10 and Trueheart made a big steal that he turned into a dunk during a 29-8 distance run, good for a 61-54 lead with 6:31 left.

Now fast forward. Roland tossed in a lefthanded desperation three from the left wing to cut the Pride’s edge to 69-68 with 9.9 seconds on the clock.

But Buie made two free throws and then Ray made four to secure the win.

“We’ve got a lot of great players on our team that can handle those situations,” Buie said of the comeback. “We stay poised.”

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