It was Throwback Thursday 50s Night at Hofstra. Mascots wore pink poodle skirts and black leather jackets. Appropriate music — Elvis and Chuck Berry — was played at halftime and during breaks.
So, as if selected for a nickel apiece from a jukebox, it was Mack House Rock followed by Eli B. Goode . . . and Rokas B. Goode . . . and Justin B. Goode. “It was really cool,” coach Joe Mihalich said.
Eli Pemberton scored 27 points and shot 7-for-10, Justin Wright-Foreman scored a “quiet” 23 points and shot 9-for-13, and Rokas Gustys scored 17 points, shot 7-for-9 and grabbed 16 rebounds as Hofstra blitzed North Carolina Wilmington, 96-76.
The hits kept on coming, with Desure Buie contributing 10 assists. It was party time, and Hofstra (14-9, 7-4 CAA) twisted the night away with efficient shooting (34-for-54 for 63 percent, including 11-for-17 from downtown) and a 38-24 rebounding advantage despite the presence of Devontae Cacok, the nation’s leading rebounder, who was held to eight.
“Statistically,” Mihalich said of Cacok’s national ranking. “But I’m sitting next to the best rebounder in the country.”
Gustys, who averages nearly 12 boards per game, spun a nifty record of his own on 50s night. With his second rebound early in the first half, he became Hofstra’s leading Division I rebounder, surpassing John Irving (1974-77), and now has 1,201. The school’s all-time leader is Bill Thieben, from the Fabulous Fifties (1953-56), with 1,837.
“Putting my name in the record books is amazing, especially when we get a win,” said Gustys, who along with Pemberton wore Hofstra College 1935 T-shirts in pregame warmups and to the postgame interview session. As a nod to the time when Hofstra was in the NCAA’s Small College Division, the public address announcer referred to the team all night as “Hofstra College” and the official pregame notes used the old “Flying Dutchmen” nickname and logo.
But, of course, it was a new-age game, with the teams totaling 20 three-pointers and the action going end-to-end.
“We concentrated on transition defense and offensive rebounding. We held them to one offensive rebound in the first half and neutralized Cacok. That was a key,” Mihalich said of the Pride’s 48-37 advantage at the break.
Wright-Foreman, the nation’s fifth- leading scorer at 25 points per game, had 14 second-half points but wasn’t needed much on this night.
“If Eli is making every shot, I don’t care if he takes 20 and Justin takes two,” Mihalich said. Pemberton took only 10 shots but added 11 of 12 free throws with his aggressive drives.
“I was taking what the defense gave me,” Pemberton said. “The lane was wide open so I took it to the rim. Just played a simple game.”
On a night that recalled a simpler time.