Hofstra guard Jalen Ray advances the ball during the second half of...

Hofstra guard Jalen Ray advances the ball during the second half of a game on Feb. 27, 2020. Credit: Lee S. Weissman/Lee S. Weissman

Jalen Ray always had an answer.

Hofstra's senior guard was nearly unguardable much of Tuesday evening, finishing with 29 points as the Pride defeated Monmouth, 96-88, at Monmouth’s OceanFirst Bank Center in non-conference men's basketball.

Ray, who set a scoring career high, shot 9 of 15 from the field, 4 of 6 from beyond the arc and 7 of 7 from the foul line. He consistently finished at the rim, beyond the arc and from the foul line seemingly with ease.

"We know what Jalen Ray is," acting head coach Mike Farrelly said. "He's an all-conference guard, one of the best guards in our conference and it's one of the reasons we are going to be able to compete for a championship this year."

Hofstra (3-2) pulled away with an 8-0 run over a span of 1 minute, 17 seconds to take an 85-74 lead with 5:30 remaining. After Monmouth pulled within 89-84, Tareq Coburn hit a key three-pointer from the corner to give Hofstra a 92-84 advantage with 1:20 left in the contest. The Pride never trailed in the second half.

"You kind of felt good when Tareq made that shot," Farrelly said. "Once he caught the ball in that spot, you said, 'OK, this probably has about a 70% chance of going in the way he shoots open threes.'"

Coburn finished with 28 points, which tied a career high, including converting 14 of 16 foul shots. George Papas had 32 points and Deion Hammond added 28 for Monmouth.

Hofstra and Monmouth were originally scheduled to open the season against each other Nov. 25, before a positive test in the Monmouth program forced the contest to bepostponed. Monmouth had two other games canceled and Tuesday was its season opener.

But Monmouth looked anything but rusty early -- especially Hammond. The senior guard scored 16 of Monmouth’s first 18 points as Hofstra trailed 18-13 after the opening eight minutes.

After Monmouth took a 20-15 advantage, the Pride countered with a 14-5 run over 2 minutes, 21 seconds to take a 29-25 lead with 9:18 remaining in the opening half. In a high-paced first half that featured seven lead changes and five ties,Hofstra emerged with a 49-47 advantage.

Hofstra shot 55% from the field, including 46% (11 of 24) from beyond the arc. After shooting 58% from the field -- including 69% (9 of 13) from beyond the arc -- in the opening half, the Pride’s defense locked down in the second half as Monmouth finished the game shooting 46% from the field and 50%t (15 of 30) from beyond the arc.

The Pride dominated on the boards, outrebounding Monmouth, 43-21, and shot 91 percent (29 of 32) from the free-throw line.


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