The non-conference portion of the season has ended. And in Joe Mihalich’s estimation, his Hofstra men’s basketball team is well-prepared for whatever Colonial Athletic Association rivals have planned because of the variety of styles and opponents the Pride have seen during the first 46 days of the season.
“We are now ready for league play,” Mihalich said after Hofstra's 63-51 win over visiting Manhattan on Sunday. Hofstra (9-4) has won three straight, five of six and eight of 10.
Eli Pemberton and Desure Buie scored 19 points each for the Pride and Isaac Kante had 14 points and 11 rebounds.
“I’m proud of our guys,” Mihalich said. “We’re far from a finished product but I think it’s a good — pretty good team.”
The team's success, he believes, has its roots in a loss. Mihalich pointed to the Pride's response after a dispiriting 86-71 loss to Bucknell on Nov. 13 as a jumping-off point.
“Your non-conference schedule sharpens your teeth for league play,” Mihalich said. “When we left Bucknell, we were 1-2. We had a bad loss there and we were all lower than a snake’s belly. And we went 8-2 the rest of our non-conference schedule. So we’re ready for league play.”
In the final act before the curtain rises for CAA play, Hofstra was forced into a slowdown, possession-by-possession game by the Jaspers. Entering the game, Steve Masiello’s team led the MAAC in scoring defense (63.6 points allowed per game) and field-goal percentage defense (.392).
Hofstra shot 22-for-51 from the field (43.1%), including 9-for-23 in the second half (39.1%). But the Pride, who led 37-25 at halftime, maintained the lead because of their free-throw shooting and defense. Hofstra shot 12-for-14 from the free-throw line and the Jaspers were 1-for-5.
Tykei Greene had 25 points and Pauly Paulicap added 13 for the Jaspers (4-5).
Hofstra limited Manhattan to 11-for-30 shooting from the field in the second half (36.7 percent) and 22-for-56 for the game (39.3%).
“I think what happens is we let our makes determine if we’re going to move it or not,” Masiello said. “We missed a couple and held it a second instead of just playing. That happens when you don’t shoot a great percentage.”