It was a coronation of sorts for the Hofstra men’s basketball team as the Pride raced out to a 28-point halftime lead and never looked back in posting a 97-81 victory over James Madison on Saturday afternoon at the David S. Mack Sports and Exhibition Complex. With the win, Hofstra becomes only the sixth team in Colonial Athletic Association history (since 1982-83) to win back-to-back outright regular season titles. They are the first since Virginia Commonwealth did it three times from 2006-07 to 2008-09. It is also Hofstra’s third regular season title in the last five seasons.
The 20 made three-pointers by Hofstra established a new program single game record. It broke the previous record of 17, done twice, most recently versus Elon last season. It is also tied for the third-most in CAA history, as UNCW and Northeastern both had 21 against Delaware in 2016-17.
Senior Eli Pemberton poured in a career-high 35 points in the contest, the first time in his illustrious career he has crossed the 30-point plateau. Senior Desure Buie was tremendous as well with 26 points and nine assists.
The win, Hofstra’s ninth in its last 10 games, improves the Pride’s record to 23-8 overall and Hofstra finishes the regular season with a 14-4 CAA ledger. James Madison fell to 9-20 and 2-16 in the league with its seventh consecutive defeat.
Prior to the game, Hofstra celebrated “Senior Day” and honored its outstanding trio of seniors (Buie, Connor Klemetowicz, and Pemberton) in a pregame ceremony.
An early 6-3 deficit was quickly erased for Hofstra as the Pride used a 22-8 run to lead 25-14 at the 12:23 mark of the first half following a three-pointer from Pemberton. Leading by six, 27-21, Hofstra would not relent in the opening half as the Pride added a 21-7 run to make it a 48-28 advantage after a three-pointer from junior Tareq Coburn. The Pride was able to take the nearly 30-point halftime lead as they scored the final 13 points of the half, including a three-pointer from junior Jalen Ray with just six seconds left.
The lead would balloon to as much as 34 in the second stanza as a three-pointer from Buie made it 87-53 with 12:29 to play after a 9-0 Pride scoring run and Hofstra would cruise from there to the regular season title-clinching victory.
Coburn finished with 14 points and four steals for the Pride, which also got 12 points and four assists from Ray. Klementowicz started for the first time in his career and had an offensive rebound on the Pride’s opening possession of the contest.
Matt Lewis posted 22 points, seven rebounds, and five assists for James Madison, which also got 12 points, eight assists, and six rebounds from Darius Banks.
Hofstra will be the top seed in the 2020 Hercules Tires CAA Men’s Basketball Championship at the Entertainment and Sports Arena in Washington, D.C. from March 7-10. The Pride will play on Sunday, March 8 at 12 p.m. against the winner of the 8/9 opening round game between Drexel and UNCW in quarterfinals.
– Today’s game was the 35th all-time meeting between Hofstra and James Madison. The Pride leads the series, 22-13. Hofstra has won seven of the last eight meetings between the teams and swept the season series this year.
– The 61-point first half is the most in a half for Hofstra under Joe Mihalich (against an NCAA Division I opponent).
– Pemberton’s previous career-high was 28, last against Charleston earlier this month.
– It is Hofstra’s third regular season CAA title overall (2015-16, 2018-19, and 2019-20).
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