Second-seeded North Carolina State outscored Hofstra, 45-36, in the second half to erase a three-point halftime deficit and defeat Hofstra, 84-78, in the first round of the 2019 National Invitation Tournament Tuesday night at James T. Valvano Arena at Reynolds Coliseum. The Wolfpack held off a late Hofstra rally and scored the final four points of the game.
The Pride sees its season end with a 27-8 record. The 27 wins are a school record. North Carolina State moves to 23-11 as it advances to the NIT second round against either Georgetown or Harvard.
Justin Wright-Foreman, the second-leading scorer in the nation, closed out his stellar Hofstra career with a game-high 29 points. He also added six rebounds and five assists. Jacquil Taylor had 14 points, eight rebounds, and four blocks. Desure Buie added 13 points, five assists, and two steals while Jalen Ray finished with 10 points, four rebounds and four assists.
Hofstra led 42-39 at the half following an opening 20 minutes that saw the Pride shoot 47 percent from the floor (14-30) and 83 percent from the free throw line (10-12). The Pride trailed 17-15 when Tareq Coburn converted a four-point play that put Hofstra on top, 19-17, with 10:33 to play in the half. The Wolfpack would take a 33-31 lead with 4:36 to play on Torin Dorn’s three-point play but Ray put the Pride ahead 23 seconds later with a three-pointer. Ray would follow with another long-range jumper with 3:34 on the clock to put Hofstra up, 37-33. The Pride would hold the lead for the rest of the half, going up by as many as seven (42-35) with a minute to play after a pair of Wright-Foreman free throws. But North Carolina State closed the half on a 4-0 run to cut its deficit to three at the end of the opening stanza.
North Carolina State opened the second half on a 7-0 run to take a 46-42 lead 2:25 in. The Pride would answer with an 11-5 run to take a 53-51 lead with 14:58 to play on a Coburn three. But the Wolfpack replied with nine consecutive points to go back up, 60-53, with 11:48 to go on a layup from Devon Daniels. The Pride cut the deficit to two, 62-60, after a three-pointer from Buie and a layup from Dan Dwyer. But North Carolina State scored five of the next seven points to hold a 67-62 lead with 8:27 to play. The lead would grow to nine, 71-62, after a flagrant foul call against Hofstra gave the Wolfpack free throws and possession. Wyatt Walker hit one free throw and Markell Johnson drained a three-pointer.
Hofstra pulled back to within five, 73-68, following baskets from Taylor and Wright-Foreman. Johnson hit three free throws with 4:52 to go to push the North Carolina State lead back to eight, 76-68. The Pride would cut the deficit to five, 78-73, on a three-point play from Wright-Foreman with 2:57 on the clock. After a Wolfpack miss, Wright-Foreman drained a three to make the score 78-76 with 2:24 to go. The Wolfpack would have two cracks at the basket on their next possession and Johnson converted on the second shot to put the home team up by four, 80-76, with 1:07 remaining. Taylor had a tip in with 46 seconds to go to cut the deficit to two once again. But Johnson put North Carolina State up by five with a three-point play with 19 ticks to go. The Wolfpack junior added a free throw with five seconds on the clock to close out the scoring.
Johnson led North Carolina State with 26 points and added seven rebounds and five assists. Dorn posted 19 points and nine rebounds while CJ Bryce had a double-double with 18 points and 11 rebounds.
-Hofstra was making its sixth NIT appearance (1999, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2016). The Pride is 2-6 in NIT play.
-Wright-Foreman scored in double-figures for the 88th consecutive game. It is the second-longest active streak in the nation and the seventh-longest in NCAA Division I history.
-Wright-Foreman finished his career with 2,327 points and ranks second all-time at Hofstra behind Charles Jenkins (2,513).
-Taylor had 10 games with three or more blocks in 2018-19.
-Hofstra, the second-best free throw shooting team in the country, was 17-19 (.895) from the free throw line
-North Carolina State leads the all-time series with Hofstra, 3-0.
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