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Non-call in final second hurts Hofstra in loss to Charleston

Hofstra Pride head coach Joe Mihalich reacts to

Hofstra Pride head coach Joe Mihalich reacts to a call during the second half of the College of Charleston Cougars at the Hofstra University Pride on February 16, 2017. Credit: Lee S Weissman

The video tells the tale: Hof stra’s Justin Wright-Foreman, with the game and the ball in his hands, attempts the potential winning three-pointer as Charleston’s Nick Harris charges toward him.

Wright-Foreman goes up. Harris’ hand goes out.

“He clearly hit me on my wrist,” Wright-Foreman said, head down and dejected.

But videos sometimes tell tales that human eyes can’t see, and that was the case Thursday night, when Hofstra didn’t get the call it wanted. Instead, the Pride, which trailed by two at the time, lost the ball out of bounds with one-tenth of a second left. Coach Joe Mihalich vehemently disagreed with the non-call, earning a technical foul, and Hofstra wound up with a 76-72 loss at Mack Sports Complex.

The loss all but guarantees that Hofstra (13-15, 5-10) will not finish as a top-six seed in the CAA and will not earn a bye in the first round of the postseason tournament.

“I thought our guys showed a lot of fight,” Mihalich said. “We didn’t play the smartest game in the world. Defensively we were poor guarding the basketball . . . It wasn’t the last shot. It was probably a lot of other things that I’d like to have back.”

The Pride fell behind by 15 with 8:41 left before mounting a valiant comeback. Wright-Foreman continued his blistering season with 26 points, extending the sophomore’s double-digit streak to 18 games.

Brian Bernardi scored 21 points, courtesy of seven three-pointers, and Rokas Gustys — in his second game back from a lower-body injury — had 16 points and 12 rebounds. Joe Chealey had 18 points for Charleston (20-8, 11-4), including the two free throws after Mihalich’s technical foul.

Chealey’s jumper ignited a 10-0 run that gave Charleston a 64-49 lead with 8:41 left and appeared to all but end Hofstra’s night — that is, until the closing minutes.

Wright-Foreman and Gustys made back-to-back baskets to draw Hofstra to within 70-67 with 2:17 left. Bernardi’s left-wing three-pointer with 14.8 seconds left got the Pride to within one before Chealey made one of two foul shots, setting up Wright-Foreman’s errant attempt.

Afterward, a calmed-down Mihalich tried to make the best of a frustrating situation.

“It shows we can win and we know that,” said Mihalich, who repeatedly has said this season that Hofstra tends to find itself on the wrong side of close games. “If we eliminate some of the boneheaded plays . . . we’re going to be on the right side of close.”

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