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Rokas Gustys comes up big in Hofstra's win over Delaware

Hofstra forward Rokas Gustys attempts a layup against

Hofstra forward Rokas Gustys attempts a layup against Delaware forward Skye Johnson in the second half of a game at Mack Sports Complex on Monday, Jan. 5, 2015. Photo Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

With the exception of Brian Bernardi, all of the hands that have been so hot for Hofstra went cold in the first half against Delaware Monday night at the Mack Sports Complex. But it didn't matter because the Pride got a glimpse of how good they can be with 6-9 freshman Rokas Gustys dominating in the paint at both ends.

In only his second game back from a hamstring injury, Gustys recorded his first double-double for the Pride despite playing only 20 minutes in a reserve role. He scored 11 points, ripped down 16 rebounds, blocked five shots and kept the Blue Hens out of the paint whenever they were in their half-court offense.

So in what coach Joe Mihalich described as an off night, Hofstra still scored a convincing 71-58 Colonial Athletic Association victory and snapped an eight-game losing streak against Delaware.

Hofstra (11-4, 2-0 CAA) came in as one of the best three-point shooting teams in the country, and Bernardi was 3-for-6 beyond the arc and scored 10 of his 13 points in the first half, when the Pride shot only 30.6 percent from the field.

But the Pride took control with a 15-0 first-half run for a 23-15 lead, getting six points each in that stretch from Bernardi and Ameen Tanksley, who started going to the basket and finished with 15 points and nine rebounds.

After a 1-for-9 first-half shooting effort, Juan'ya Green got going in the second half to finish with 16 points. Hofstra shot 51.4 percent in the second half and led by as many as 16 points.

"To not be as sharp as you'd like to be and still win the game, we're proud of that," Mihalich said. "I thought our defense was good. We got a big boost from 'Rock' and we're glad to win the game. We're in the midst of a tough stretch with four out of five conference games on the road to start."

Gustys' playing time was limited as he works back into shape after being shut down completely without practice while recovering from the injury. He missed a lot of layups, which increased his offensive rebounds to seven, but he found his touch in the second half.

"I think I'm getting better every day," Gustys said of his health. "Offense didn't go well.''

Reminded that he was a 60 percent shooter at Oak Hill Prep, the 260-pound Lithuanian bruiser said, "I'd say it's rust from my injury and not having a feel for the basket."

As for his defense, Gustys said, "I try to do what I do best, and five blocks is the best I ever had."

Hofstra had a 48-33 rebounding edge that led to a 71-58 advantage in shots.

Tanksley liked the impact Gustys made. "If he catches it in the post," he said, "he can find you."

So add passing ability to Gustys' repertoire, and imagine what the Pride might do on a good night.

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