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Hofstra bounces back from bad loss and routs Molloy

Justin Wright-Foreman scored 23 points and Eli Pemberton added 19 for the Pride.

Hofstra guard Justin Wright-Foreman puts his shoulder into

Hofstra guard Justin Wright-Foreman puts his shoulder into Molloy's Nick Corbett during the first half at the Mack Sports Complex on Thursday, Nov. 30, 2017 Photo Credit: Lee S. Weissman

Hofstra still felt the aftershocks of Saturday’s loss to Siena when it took the court on Thursday. It felt it as it took a 20-point lead in the first half against Molloy, and as its bench added on in the second. It felt it with Hunter Sabety’s booming block in the waning minutes of the game, and as Justin Wright-Foreman worked on scoring his game-high 23 points.

It had, in some ways, underestimated Siena, but as it returned to Hempstead to take on a Division II team, there was exactly zero risk of that happening again. Instead, it defeated the Lions, 107-72, matching the Pride’s highest point total in the shot-clock era, and its highest since 1972, when Hofstra tallied 118 points.

“It wasn’t good,” coach Joe Mihalich said of Hofstra’s nine-point loss to Siena. “We were disappointed in ourselves. We just didn’t have the right mindset going up there and we got what we deserved, so we had to get that taste of our mouths, and I think we did. Hopefully, we learn from it. It might sound like a cliche, but sometimes it takes a loss like that to learn.”

On Thursday, the Pride (4-3) was model students, with five players scoring in double digits. Eli Pemberton, who hurt his knee in the second half but returned minutes later, had 19 points and three steals, and Rokas Gustys added 14 points and 15 rebounds. It was the senior’s 38th career double-double, putting him at eighth on the all-time Colonial Athletic Association career double-double list. Hofstra had a 19-point lead over the Lions (1-6) at halftime, outrebounded them, 45-29 and scored 23 points on 17 turnovers. They turned the ball over only six times themselves.

“It’s all about making the game fun for everyone,” Pemberton said. “Once we work for each other and work as one, that’s when we’re at our best. We’ve been kind of slacking off of that but today was definitely a great game to reassure each other as a team that we’re taking a step in the right direction.”

Just in the nick of time, too. Hofstra amassed all three of its losses in the last week — and though two of those were against admittedly staunch opponents (Clemson and Auburn), there was no doubt the effort against Siena was disappointing in almost every aspect. Now, it goes on the road to face two hot teams in Monmouth and Rider before hitching a ride to Stony Brook for a Long Island rivalry game.

The hope, Mihalich said, is that this stretch will fully prepare Hofstrafor CAA play, and maybe eradicate a few of the “bad habits” the team has picked up.

“We did what we had to do, we got this win,” he said. “We got off the slide here. We had a bad outing last time we were out and we were glad we were able to make some progress at one end of the floor. We’ve got to keep getting better defensively, but . . . you can’t just snap your fingers and break those bad habits. It’s got to be a gradual thing day to day. That’s where we’re at and we’re going to try to keep getting better and better and get ready for next game.”

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