Hofstra Hangs on to Advance to Quarterfinals

Publishedoncampuspsorts.com March 7, 2014

            Graduate forward, Zeke Upshaw, continued his hot streak as he scored 23 points in eight seeded, Hofstra’s 78-70 win over the ninth seeded, UNC Wilmington Seahawks in the first round of the CAA Tournament.

 Graduate guard, Dion Nesmith, brings the ball up court in the first round of the 2014 Tournament. Photo Credit-Jeff Lansky

 Hofstra’s big three: Upshaw, Dion Nesmith, and Jamall Robinson were the ironmen of the game, playing all 40 minutes of the contest. Upshaw was 4-7 from three-point range and dished out 3 assists. Graduate guard, Nesmith added 15 points with 3 assists. Freshman guard, Jamall Robinson, had an unusually quiet night with 10 points, but managed to hit the shot that lifted the Pride over the Seahawks. 

  “In the end we had that refuse to lose mentality about us. It’s survive and advance so we’re tickled to death to keep playing basketball ” said head coach, Joe Mihalich

 The Seahawks were led by red-shirt sophomore guard, Craig Ponder, who scored a season high 24 points off of the bench. Junior guard, Freddie Jackson, tied a career high with 16 points.

 The Seahawks jumped out to a three-point lead to start out the game, but Hofstra soon took over. Upshaw hit back-to-back three pointers to give Hofstra the 6-5 lead with 17:47 remaining in the first half. The Pride then jumped out to a 7 point lead with 15:59 left in the half off of a pair of free throws from sophomore forward, Jordan Allen. The Seahawks rallied back as Jackson hit a layup to tie the game at 23 with 8:18 left on the clock. UNC Wilmington kept the pressure on Hofstra as they trailed 39-35 at the half.

 Upshaw got the second half started for the Pride with a three pointer to make the score 42-39 with 18:09 left in the second half. Hofstra took their largest lead of the game after senior forward, Stephen Nwaukoni, sank two free throws to take a 58-50 lead with 8:28. The Seahawks weren’t out of it yet as they rallied

 Hofstra sophomore, forward, Jordan Allen drives in the first round of the 2014 CAA Tournament. Photo Credit-Jeff Lansky

back into the game. Jackson gave UNC Wilmington a 60-59 lead, which was their first lead since the beginning of the first half with an old-fashioned three-point play with 5:17 left. The Pride and Seahawks traded leads over the next three minutes, setting the stage for Jamall Robinson to redeem himself from his slow first half. Robinson put back his missed lay-up, was fouled, and preceded to sink his free throw. Robinson’s big play put Hofstra up for good with a 72-70 lead with 1:53 left on the clock. Nwaukoni put the exclamation point on the win with a show-stopping dunk to bring the game to its final score of 78-70.

 Hofstra’s big men made a huge impact as Nwaukoni and junior forward, Moussa Kone, combined for 21 points and 23 rebounds. “They made winning basketball plays down the stretch,” said Mihalich “I’m really happy with those guys.”

 With Friday night’s win, Hofstra advances to the CAA Tournament quarterfinals against the one seeded Delaware Fightin’ Blue Hens at 12 p.m. tomorrow. The Pride look to avenge their first round exit in last year’s tournament at the hands of the Blue Hens. When asked about how the Pride match up with the Blue Hens, Mihalich said, “They are a potent offensive team. We played them well the first two games and hopefully we can find a way to do that tomorrow.”

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