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Hofstra's 16-game win streak ends in loss to Northeastern

Hofstra's Desure Buie, who scored 22 points, goes

Hofstra's Desure Buie, who scored 22 points, goes up for two over Northeastern defenders Jason Strong and Vasa Pusica at Matthews Arena in Boston on Saturday. Credit: Robert E. Klein

BOSTON — It was far from the kind of offensive showing Hofstra has grown accustomed to in recent months.

And the lackluster performance against Colonial Athletic Association foe Northeastern on Saturday produced an unfamiliar result.

Hofstra, which owned the nation’s longest active winning streak with 16 consecutive victories, walked off the court in defeat for the first time in more than two months as the Huskies topped the Pride, 75-61, at Matthews Arena.

Despite the defeat — Hofstra’s first since a 69-67 overtime loss to VCU on Nov. 24 — the Pride (19-4, 9-1 CAA) were able to marvel at what they had accomplished.

“It was a magical run,” coach Joe Mihalich said. “Maybe we had to get this clunker out of our system. I don’t think that’s who we are, but give Northeastern credit for that because they played so well. But really proud of our guys for what they’ve done, and now it’s our challenge to lick our wounds, get back to Long Island and see if we can’t get another streak going.”

With four of its five starters picking up two fouls in the first 15 minutes, Hofstra’s offense fell out of rhythm.

Northeastern (13-9, 7-3) held Hofstra to a season-low scoring output as the Pride shot 39.3 percent from the floor and 5-for-22 (22.7 percent) on three-pointers.

The Huskies zeroed in on Justin Wright-Foreman, who ranked third in the country in scoring with 26 points per game. With Donnell Gresham Jr. drawing the bulk of the defensive assignment on the senior standout, Wright-Foreman scored Hofstra’s first six points but finished with 15 points and 5-for-14 shooting.

“I thought we were getting some good shots. We just couldn’t get it going,” Mihalich said. “They didn’t do anything that surprised us, but what they planned on doing, their defense was better than our offense, and we’ll go back to the drawing board and see if we should have done a couple things better, which I know we should have.”

Wright-Foreman spent nearly the final eight minutes of the first half on the bench after picking up his second foul on a questionable charge call.

With Hofstra’s offensive leader sidelined, the Huskies took a 37-29 halftime advantage and their lead never dipped below five in the second half.

Northeastern’s Vasa Pusica was the best player on the court, scoring 24 points thanks to crafty finishes at the rim and an adept three-point shot. Gresham (18 points) knocked down treys with regularity to extend the lead to double digits.

Sensing that the game was slipping away and that its winning streak was on thin ice, Hofstra’s frustrations boiled over. Eli Pemberton picked up a flagrant 1 foul and Mihalich was hit with a technical foul in the final seven minutes.

While Hofstra received inconsistent play from Wright-Foreman and Pemberton, Desure Buie did all he could to carry the Pride by scoring a season-best 22 points.

“When Justin, Elijah and Tareq [Coburn] and Jalen [Ray] don’t have good days, well, we ain’t beating anybody,” Mihalich said. “Desure realized somebody had to do something and he stepped up and did it.”

Throughout its winning streak, Hofstra embraced the challenge of trying to extend it by a game at a time. Now the Pride will carry that same mindset into their next contest Thursday against Elon.

“The really good teams respond after a day like this,” Mihalich said. “I think we’re a really good team, but I’ll let you know Thursday night.”

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