Senior Eli Pemberton had a game-high 25 points to lead a spirited Pride comeback as the Hofstra men’s basketball team opened Colonial Athletic Association play with an 82-76 win over James Madison on Saturday afternoon at the JMU Convocation Center. Hofstra trailed by 13 points early in the second stanza before rallying for the big road conference win.
Hofstra shot an incredible 70.8% (17-24) from the field in the second half.
The win was Hofstra’s fourth straight as the Pride improved to 10-4 overall and 1-0 in league action. James Madison saw its modest two-game win streak come to an end as they fell to 7-5 and 0-1 in conference play. Hofstra has won four straight games over the Dukes in Harrisonburg.
Senior Desure Buie was stellar in the second half, scoring all of his 15 points in the final 20 minutes, while junior Jalen Ray posted 14 of his 18 points after intermission.
James Madison jumped out to an early 8-0 lead in the game before Hofstra responded with a 13-4 run to earn its first lead of the contest at the 13:37 mark on a pair of free throws from Ray. A 12-1 run midway through the half for the Dukes gave the home squad a 28-16 advantage with less than six minutes left. The lead would still be at 10 for James Madison with just over a minute remaining before intermission before Pemberton willed the Pride to only a six-point halftime deficit as he drained two free throws and then hit a running three-pointer as the clock expired to make it 36-30 at the break. Pemberton was all over the place in the first 20 minutes with 17 points and it marked the second straight year he drained a shot to end the first half as he hit a full-court shot at the end of the first half in the last meeting between the teams in Harrisonburg last January.
The Pride looked to be in trouble to start the second stanza as the Dukes scored nine straight points, including back-to-back three-pointers from Deshon Parker and Darius Banks, to open up a 45-32 advantage with 17:39 left in regulation. Junior Tareq Coburn responded immediately for Hofstra with a three-pointer to cut the deficit to 10 and he would score four straight three minutes later to close the gap to 47-43 with 14:05 remaining. The lead hovered around that total for much of the next few minutes until two free throws from Buie and a layup from sophomore Isaac Kante made it 57-55 in favor of James Madison with just under 11 minutes left. Hofstra would finally get over the hump and take the lead as Ray hit two free throws and Buie drained a pull-up jumper with 5:30 left to put the Pride in front, 68-67. The game was knotted at 71 following a basket from Zach Jacobs before Ray gave Hofstra the lead for good with a three-pointer at the 3:29 mark. The Pride then made six free throws in the final three minutes to capture the win in the conference opener for both teams.
Coburn finished with 15 points for Hofstra, which got eight rebounds from Eli Pemberton and six from junior Stafford Trueheart. Buie added six rebounds and four assists for the Pride. Matt Lewis scored 22 points and added six rebounds for James Madison, which also got 17 points and eight assists from Deshon Parker.
Hofstra is back in action on Monday when it heads to Towson for a 2 p.m. contest.
– Hofstra leads the all-time series with James Madison, 21-13. The Pride has won six of the last seven meetings between the schools.
– Buie now has 923 points to move within 77 of 1,000 for his career.
– Pemberton now has 1,630 points to move within 47 of 10th place all-time at Hofstra in scoring.
– The win was the 390th in the head coaching career for Joe Mihalich. There are currently 49 active NCAA Division I coaches with 400 wins.
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