Hofstra defeats Charleston in regular-season finale
Speedy Claxton did not mince words. He was not and is not especially overjoyed about playing the same opponent twice in less than a week.
Which is the exact scenario in which Hofstra finds itself.
"It’s not an ideal situation," Claxton said after the Pride’s 89-84 win over Charleston in the regular-season finale Monday night at the David S. Mack Sports & Exhibition Complex. "I really didn’t like it."
Hofstra and the Cougars will meet in the Colonial Athletic Association quarterfinal round at 8:30 p.m. Sunday at the Entertainment and Sports Arena in Washington.
Hofsstra completed the regular season at 21-10 overall and 13-5 in the CAA. Because of the Pride’s 83-67 win over William & Mary and Charleston’s 80-79 loss at Drexel on Saturday, Hofstra and the Cougars entered Monday locked into the third and sixth seeds in the conference tournament.
All of which meant the second matchup of the CAA’s top two scoring teams — Charleston was first at 76.9 points per game and Hofstra was second at 75.8 — had little at stake. "I’m sure those guys didn’t want to be here," Claxton said.
Monday night’s game originally was scheduled for Jan. 5 but had to be rescheduled because of a COVID-19 outbreak within the Charleston program.
Hofstra entered the second half with an 11-point lead and spent the half absorbing surges from Charleston (16-14, 8-10), which was led by Ben Burnham’s 19 points. Reyne Smith had 14 and Babacar Faye 10.
The Cougars cut the lead to three on Burnham’s two-handed dunk with 1:13 left. Aaron Estrada replied with a three-pointer from in front of Hofstra’s bench to push the lead to 83-77.
Estrada led all scorers with 28 points. "Coaches keep telling me to keep shooting," said Estrada, who shot 9-for-29 in Hofstra’s previous two games. "Everybody’s telling me to keep shooting."
Omar Silverio added 19 for the Pride and Jarrod Simmons chipped in with 10.
Hofstra shot 46% from the field (29-for-63) and 33% from three-point range (11-for-33). Of the Pride’s 89 points, 32 came off Charleston’s 28 turnovers.
"They’re a high-turnover team," Claxton said. "We kind of expected that they would turn the ball over."
After a relatively even first 10 minutes, the Pride outscored Charleston 25-16 and took a 42-31 halftime lead. Estrada and Silverio each scored seven of their 10 first-half points in that stretch.
"Big-time players," Claxton said, "make big plays."