Hofstra did not so much beat Stony Brook Wednesday evening as much as they buried them under a mountain of shots. They ran them (eventually) into submission and nagged them into sloppy turnovers as this year’s battle for Long Island hardwood dominance turned into a war of attrition.
By the time the final buzzer rang, the Pride had won, 71-63, at the Mack Sports Complex and managed an eye-popping 72 shots, going 30.6 percent from the floor. Hofstra hit 12 threes in 35 tries, Stony Brook committed 22 turnovers and each team had over 40 rebounds (44 for Stony Brook and 42 for Hofstra). The Pride scored 14 second-chance points. Desure Buie scored a game-high 20 points and Jalen Ray scored 17, including the go-ahead three late in the second half.
Tareq Coburn (10 points, 12 rebounds) and Eli Pemberton (15 points, 10 rebounds) notched double doubles. Stony Brook’s Andrew Garcia had 18 points and 12 rebounds.
With Stony Brook up by two, Elijah Olaniyi turned the ball over after nabbing the defensive rebound under the Hofstra basket, giving the Pride another crack at the lead. Pemberton kicked it out to Ray, who sank a three for the 60-59 Hofstra lead. Hofstra and Stony Brook exchanged layups before Hofstra hit seven straight free throws to put up a commanding lead with about 30 seconds left. Pemberton hit the final two free throws for the final margin.
“Our guys can really shoot the ball but it doesn’t always go in and when it doesn’t, do other things,” Hofstra coach Joe Mihalich said. “We’re really proud of our guys. It was a hard-fought win…We never caved.”
Hofstra switched from their regular zone defense to man-to-man when they saw the latter wasn’t working, crawled back from a number of small holes and survived a mansion’s worth of bricks.
Hofstra shot only 35 percent in the first half but managed to eke out a 36-34 halftime lead on the back of their breathless offense. Stony Brook led by five midway through the half before Pemberton’s three helped the Pride turn the tide. Hofstra later scored six straight to go up 26-22 with 5:48 left in the first half, and were up by as many as eight with a minute left. Makale Foreman, though, hit back-to-back treys, including an off-balance one at the buzzer to make sure Stony Brook entered halftime down only 36-34.
That, though, could still be considered something of a halftime victory for Hofstra, whose run-and-gun style led to sloppy early shooting, including an 0-for-8 stretch that lasted for about six minutes early in the first half. The Pride struggled in the paint against Stony Brook’s size – Jeff Otchere (6-11) and Mouhamadou Gueye (6-9) – but were able to secure the halftime lead thanks to their 7-for-16 perimeter shooting.
“I thought the pace of the game was really fast,” Stony Brook coach Geno Ford said. “I thought we played a little faster that we’re used to sometimes, but I didn’t feel like we were necessarily taking out-of-character shots for us.”
Jeff Otchere’s monster block with 15:15 left in the game kicked off a 5-0 Stony Brook run that eventually gave it its first lead since midway through the first half – culminated by Makale Foreman’s three, which put the Seawolves up 43-41. Hofstra, though, managed a mini-run of its own, scoring nine straight – four by Buie – to go up 54-45 with 11 minutes to go. It was Hofstra’s biggest lead but it lost it promptly behind three straight Stony Brook threes. Olaniyi’s three-point play put the Seawolves up 56-54, though that lead, too, would evaporate under the frantic play and sheer volume of shot attempts.
“They believed in themselves. They didn’t panic. They kept good poise,” Mihalich said. “We know why we didn’t survive in those other [losses] and used it as a learning lesson and just toughed it out.”