LAWRENCEVILLE, N.J. — Hofstra is beginning to develop a ‘Big Shot Ray’ of its own.
Just days after hitting the winning three-pointer for the Pride against Monmouth, Jalen Ray was ready for an encore performance Saturday night.
With the score tied at 71, Ray hit a three-pointer from the corner with 4:51 remaining the game to give the Pride a three-point lead in their 88-82 victory at Rider.
“I just felt like be relaxed when I’m playing and just give what the defense is giving me,” said Ray, who would force a foul and hit a free throw in the following possession with Justin Wright-Foreman adding a runner and Eli Pemberton with a three-pointer with 2:44 remaining to take the 80-71 lead.
But Rider (5-5) didn’t fade away in the final three minutes. After Jordan Allen’s fourth three-pointer of the game cut Hofstra’s lead to 80-77 with 1:36 remaining, Joel Angus III corralled an offensive rebound off a missed three-pointer for Hofstra with Pemberton drawing a foul and hitting both shots with 45 seconds remaining to take an 82-77 lead.
“Tough teams win on the road. It’s hard to do that and these guys are staring to become a tough, tough team,” coach Joe Mihalich said.
Wright-Foreman finished with 30 points and Pemberton added 28 points as the score was separated by four points or fewer for nearly all of the game’s final 30 minutes. Ray finished with 17 points.
“We were just taking what the defense was giving us at the time,” Wright-Foreman said. “The defense was giving us open jump shots, driving lanes, just whatever happened on the court happened.”
In a game featuring 20 lead changes and 10 ties — including 12 lead changes and five ties in the final 10 minutes of the first half alone — Wright-Foreman and Pemberton wouldn’t allow Hofstra to fall too far behind in a back-and-forth affair.
It’s back-to-back last-second road victories for the Pride (6-3), which had an 85-84 comeback victory over Monmouth Wednesday night with a winning three-pointer featured as the top player on ESPN’s SportsCenter, relied on Ray, Wright-Foreman and Pemberton for more of the same on Saturday night.
“We preach all the time tough kids make free throws, tough kids win on the road and that’s just a major credit to how hard we work at practice,” Wright-Foreman said.
Hofstra opened an 11-2 lead in the first five-and-a-half minutes as each team shot at least 50 percent from the field and better than 40 percent from three-point range in the first half, which Hofstra led 43-41.
The Pride finished shooting 54.5 percent from the field for the game, including 45.8 percent from beyond the arc on 11 of 24 shooting from deep.