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Jalen Ray finds the range in second half of Hofstra's win over Towson

Hofstra's Jalen Ray driving down the court against

Hofstra's Jalen Ray driving down the court against Towson on Saturday. Credit: Hofstra University /Philip Hinds

No matter how frustrating the results were in the first half, Jalen Ray remembered one thing.

"Shooters just have to keep shooting," said the senior guard, who scored all 16 of his points in the second half to spark the Hofstra men’s basketball team to a 71-58 CAA victory over Towson at Mack Sports Complex on Saturday afternoon. "My coaches told me to just keep shooting and it’ll fall. And that’s the only thing. It’s just about keeping your confidence."

Entering the contest as the Pride’s leading scorer at 18.3 points per game, Ray missed all six of his field-goal attempts and was held scoreless during 18 minutes of action in the first half. He said slowing things down was the key to finding better fortune in the second half.

"First half, I was just forcing a lot of stuff," Ray said. "I’ve just got to let the game come to me and that’s what I did in the second half, and that’s how I got 16 points, by just slowing the game down."

Hofstra improved to 8-6 overall and 4-3 in conference play, and Towson dropped to 3-6, 2-2.

Hofstra’s acting head coach Mike Farrelly said Ray’s strong turnaround was a sign of not just his progression on the court, but off it, as well.

"A lot of growth out of Jalen," Farrelly said. "I don’t think he does this — going scoreless in the first half on 0-for-6 shooting and then finishes 5-for-14 with 16 points — I don’t think he does that a couple of years ago. It really shows his maturity and leadership and how he’s grown as a person more than he even has as a player. So a terrific job by him."

A buzzer-beating three-pointer from Nicolas Timberlake capped off a 7-0 run and gave the Tigers a 35-32 advantage at halftime before the Pride responded with a far greater run of their own. Back-to-back threes from Ray gave Hofstra a seven-point edge with 13:40 remaining, and ignited a 15-0 spurt that gave the Pride a 58-42 lead 3 1/2 minutes later.

Towson pulled to within 62-55 with 4:11 to go in large part due to its full-court press forcing a number of turnovers, but Hofstra regained its footing to earn the win.

Zane Martin led the Tigers with 17 points.

Despite shooting just 42.4% from the field, Hofstra’s 44% clip from deep (11-for-25) in contrast to Towson’s 26.7% (4-for-15) ultimately proved to be a significant difference-maker.

Amidst Ray’s early struggles, the Pride received key contributions from Kvonn Cramer, Tareq Coburn and Isaac Kante, who combined for Hofstra’s first 22 points. Cramer, a redshirt freshman, led the way with 10 en route to a career-high 16 points.

"Kvonn can shoot the ball," Farrelly said. "He hasn’t been shooting the ball well, but he’s certainly improved. He could barely make shots outside of four feet in high school. So he’s really worked on his game and really improved.

Kante had 12 points and 12 rebounds and Coburn tacked on 12 points and nine rebounds.

Hofstra hosts Towson once again on Sunday to wrap up the series.

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