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Jenkins sets Hofstra scoring record in loss

Hofstra point guard Charles Jenkins controls the ball

Hofstra point guard Charles Jenkins controls the ball during the second half in a 65-60 loss at home to Drexel. (Jan. 29, 2011) Credit: Christopher Pasatieri

This was Charles Jenkins' moment - headed to the free- throw line with a person-sized cutout of his face somewhere in the stands and a rare sellout crowd at the Mack Sports Complex chanting his name as if he were Rudy before he comes in and sacks the quarterback.

Jenkins didn't disappoint in the cinematic setting. He hit the first free throw to tie Hofstra's career scoring record, took a moment to scream jubilantly at the stands, then nailed the second to break Antoine Agudio's old mark of 2,276 points set in 2008.

But this too was Jenkins' moment more than an hour later: facing the media horde that wanted to hear about everything he did and the one thing he couldn't do: Beat Drexel.

After falling behind by 12 points in the first half and nine late in the second, Hofstra got to within one before losing to the Dragons, 65-60.

Terse, dejected, leaning back in his chair and then slumping forward with his head in his hands, Jenkins refused to dwell on his thorny crowning achievement.

"It really doesn't mean much to me right now," he said. "If I had 14 points and we won, I'd be the happiest kid in the gym.''

About the growing hype surrounding his benchmark - there was that huge photo of his face, a makeshift paper countdown and more than a few chants - he merely shrugged.

"We were down at the time," Jenkins said of the two free throws that gave him the record and brought Hofstra to within 47-45 with 10:15 to play. "I couldn't care less about the record at that time. We were more concerned about winning."

Revisionist history, perhaps. He cared enough to hug a teammate and his coach right after breaking the record - Jenkins needed 16 points to do it and finished with 19, giving him 2,280 career points - but even so, Jenkins' disappointment was palpable, mostly because he blamed himself.

After Drexel took a 59-50 lead, Jenkins assisted on a three-pointer by Brad Kelleher and a fast-break layup by Mike Moore (20 points) and sank three free throws to bring the Pride within 59-58 with 2:07 to play. David Imes' putback cut it to 61-60.

With about 40 seconds to play, Greg Washington put the ball where Hofstra wanted it: firmly in Jenkins' hands. And Jenkins put it right back in Washington's - or tried to, anyway.

"We wanted him" to take the shot, coach Mo Cassara said of Jenkins' pass inside to Washington, who was tied up, giving the ball to Drexel. "He looked to drop the ball off because they were guarding him so heavily and pushed him out. The ball got loose under the basket."

But one play didn't cost the Pride the game, of course. Hofstra (14-8, 8-3 Colonial Athletic Association) was outrebounded 47-24 by Drexel (14-7, 6-5).

"A lot of it was my fault because I didn't help them," said Jenkins, who had eight assists. "Drexel is a great rebounding team and they sent five guys to the glass. You can't expect two forwards to beat them against five guys. I take responsibility for what happened with the rebounding."

And yet it's impossible to ignore that without Jenkins, Hofstra wouldn't have been in position to win in the waning minutes. Moore and Jenkins scored 30 of the Pride's first 34 points.

Chris Fouch came off the bench to score 18 points and reserve Dartaye Ruffin had 15 points and 14 rebounds for the Dragons, who had 35 bench points to Hofstra's seven.

"We weren't real sharp tonight," Cassara said. "There were a lot of 50-50 balls we didn't get. We were a little slow on offense and defense."

Even though Jenkins said that at the moment, the milestone didn't feel too special, he readily admitted the atmosphere was. "I was excited for it," he said. "It was a great opportunity for us to keep the fans involved, but unfortunately, we didn't bring the win home for them."

New York Sports