Hofstra beat struggling Delaware by 11 points on Saturday, but there was nothing easy about it.
After blowing an early 14-point lead and falling behind by nine early in the second half, the Pride did what was necessary down the stretch to defeat the Blue Hens, 77-66, at the Bob Carpenter Center in Newark, Delaware.
With the score tied at 65, Juan’ya Green hit a layup to give Hofstra the lead for good and Denton Koon added a three-pointer with 1:15 left for a 70-65 lead. “He’s a winner, he’s just a winner,’’ Hofstra coach Joe Mihalich said of Koon in his postgame news conference provided online by the university. “It’s amazing what he does for this team. People use the expression ‘glue guy’ all the time. He is one of those guys, there’s no doubt about that. He’s going to be there in the end.’’
Rokas Gustys, Green and Koon then went 7-for-8 from the free-throw line during the final minute, capping a 12-0 run that gave the Pride a 77-65 lead.
Green finished with 19 points and 12 assists and Gustys added 18 points and 21 rebounds for the Pride (18-8, 10-4 Colonial Athletic Association). “I’ll tell you what, Rokas Gustys is incredible,’’ Mihalich said.
Ameen Tanksley had 15 points, Koon 13 and Brian Bernardi nine for the Pride.
In the last nine games, the 6-9, 260-pound Gustys is averaging 18.3 points and 17.4 rebounds and shooting 69-for-101. His double-double was his 11th in the last 12 games.
“It’s an amazing thing as a coach,’’ Mihalich said, laughing. “As a coach, you want guys who are going to try to get 10 rebounds, and if they do that, you hug ’em. This guy tries to get 20 rebounds. He tries to get 20 rebounds. It’s an amazing thing.’’
Mihalich said of Green, “When you have Juan’ya Green, your team’s got a great chance to win’’ and added, “There’s no better passer in the country . . . Juan’ya Green is the best passer I’ve ever seen in my life.’’
Kory Holden had 23 points and seven assists for Delaware (6-19, 1-13). Marvin King-Davis added 16 points and Anthony Mosley had 11.
Hofstra shot 15-for-26 overall and 6-for-10 from three-point range in its 50-point second half.
Green’s three-pointer gave Hofstra a 20-6 lead with 14:36 remaining in the first half, but King-Davis scored 14 points and Holden 13 in a 39-16 run that gave Delaware a 45-36 lead with 14:48 remaining. Delaware still led by eight at 54-46 before Hofstra produced a 12-2 run and took a 58-56 lead with 5:48 left.
”It had hangover written all over it,’’ Mihalich said. “It had trap game written all over it. We had the great win at William & Mary and the tough trip here. Our guys just weren’t going to let it happen, they weren’t going to let that happen. I’m really proud of them. They kept their composure.’’
With four games remaining, the Pride is two games behind UNCW (12-2) and a game ahead of James Madison, Towson and William & Mary (all 9-5).
— GREG GUTES