The Hofstra men’s basketball team put up a tough fight against Towson, but fell 83-77 at the Mack Sports Complex Saturday afternoon. The loss dropped the Pride to 8-21 on the season while Towson improved to 20-9.
Zeke Upshaw (Chicago, Il) led the Pride with 33 points which included a perfect 12-for-12 from the charity stripe but in the end, the shooting of Towson and the high number of fouls taken by Hofstra were too much to overcome.
“We shot ourselves in the foot at key times,” admitted Hofstra coach Joe Mihalich. “We don’t have a lot of room for error, so we’ve got to make those plays. When they [Towson] had to make a tough play, they made it.”
The game was close from the early going. In the first 3:53, there were six lead changes. Hofstra was able to stay close due to good shooting by Dion Nesmith (Union, NJ) and Upshaw.
The Pride got into foul trouble early, however, and had trouble recovering from that because they had only seven players in their lineup. The officials also gave Towson a lot more opportunities from the free throw line. In the first half, Towson was 12-of-15 from the charity stripe while Hofstra was not even awarded a single free throw.
The good news for Hofstra was that Towson’s most dangerous offensive player, Jerrelle Benimon, also got into early foul trouble. He left the game late in the first half when he picked up his third personal foul. Benimon had 17 points in the first half and shot 6-for-7 from the floor. When he rode the bench because of foul trouble, Hofstra had a big chance to take the lead. They were unable to do so.
“They did it without Benimon,” Mihalich said. “In a strange way, him not being on the floor made their other guys step up their games. They made winning plays and we didn’t.”
At the half, Towsend led 35-29 but Hofstra was certainly still in the game. Both Nesmith (11) and Upshaw (10) scored in double digits in the first half for the Pride.
Hofstra scored the first six points of the second half to tie the game at 35-35. They stayed close throughout, but Rafriel Guthrie started to heat up for Towson. The senior scored 15 of his 16 points in the second half.
Upshaw scored 23 in the second half, but the fouls started to pile up for the Pride and despite coming as close as four points in the late going, they couldn’t close out the gap.
By the end of the game, three Hofstra players had fouled out including Nesmith, Jamall Robinson and Jordan Allen. Three other players had four fouls each.
When the Pride did foul, Towson was able to convert. The Tigers hit 9-of-12 free throws down the stretch to hold off Hofstra’s late run.
Despite falling short, coach Mihalich was proud of his team’s effort. “These guys are great, they won’t stop playing…It’s a great bunch of guys and they won’t stop fighting, they believe in themselves. We deserve to get one of these but nobody’s going to give us one, we have to earn it. I wouldn’t want to play us. We’ve got plenty of basketball left.”
Hofstra returns to action Wednesday when they visit William & Mary. The game starts at 7:00 PM ET.