Katelyn Loper, left, looks to get past Central Connecticut State...

Katelyn Loper, left, looks to get past Central Connecticut State University #3 Kaley Watras in the first half. (Dec. 21, 2011) Credit: James Escher

No matter how hard they try, opposing teams simply cannot keep the Hofstra offense down for long.

The host Pride had three players in double digits as it defeated Central Connecticut State, 67-60, Wednesday in the first round of the New York Life Holiday Invitational women's basketball tournament.

Katelyn Loper scored 18 points and pulled down seven rebounds to lead the Pride, and Shante Evans had 12 points and 12 rebounds, her fourth double-double of the season. Candice Bellocchio added 12 points, seven assists, and five rebounds.

The win put Hofstra (8-2) into the final Thursday at 2:30 against Marist, a 69-61 winner over Auburn.

Loper's three-pointer off the left wing highlighted a 7-0 run to open the game for Hofstra. The Pride, which has the 13th highest-scoring offense in Division I, jumped out to a 19-6 lead with about 13 minutes left in the first half.

CCSU rallied to make it 43-42 after halftime by running down the shot clock and slowing the pace, effectively keeping the ball out of Hofstra's hands.

A Hofstra timeout helped to break CCSU's momentum, and the Pride pulled away to a 12-point lead with a little more than six minutes to play.

CCSU made one last late charge to close the gap to 64-60, but the Hofstra defense held strong with Evans altering a Blue Devils shot with less than a minute to play.

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