The quest for a second straight Colonial Athletic Association championship falls short for the Hofstra men’s basketball team as the fourth-seeded Pride suffered a 76-58 defeat to eighth-seeded Elon in the CAA Championship Semifinal Monday night from the Atlantic Union Bank Center.
The loss puts Hofstra at 14-9, while Elon improves to 10-8 as they advance to the first CAA Tournament Championship in program history. This marked the first-ever meeting between the two schools in the CAA Tournament since Elon became a member of the conference in 2014.
Senior Jalen Ray led all players in the game with 20 points and three assists. Sophomore Caleb Burgess put up 16 points on 6-10 shooting and 3-6 from three-point range, while tying Ray for the team-lead in assists with three. Junior Isaac Kante led the team with six rebounds and added 10 points to the cause.
Hofstra went up by as much as four points inside the first six minutes of the game before Elon went ahead with seven straight points. The lead went back-and-forth through the middle portion of the first half, but Elon eventually used a 6-0 run to take a 20-15 lead over Hofstra with 8:52 to play. The Pride battled back, clawing to within one before Burgess scored the next five points to give Hofstra a slim lead with 4:43 on the clock.
The lead changed six times inside the final five minutes, with no team able to pull ahead by any more than two points. Every time Elon was able to take a slim lead, Hofstra responded to retake that lead. A free throw by freshman Kvonn Cramer and a pair of points from the stripe by Kante gave the Pride a two-point advantage before Elon answered with a quick three. Ray responded with a three of his own at 1:55, but Elon drilled a three on the very next possession to put the Phoenix ahead by one. A block by Ray and a driving layup by Burgess were the final points of the half as Pride held a 34-33 advantage going into the break.
The first five points of the second half belonged to the Pride thanks to a Cramer layup and a three by Ray, but the Phoenix went on a 19-3 run to pull ahead, 52-42. Hofstra used a lengthy 14-3 run of its own to draw to within one with 8:15 remaining. A Cramer free throw and a three by Ray started the run, and featured three-pointers by Burgess and senior Tareq Coburn. Elon held Hofstra scoreless for the next 1:32 and put the next seven points on the board to go ahead, 62-54, until Ray nailed a shot from behind the arc to make it a five-point contest with 6:35 still to play. Elon exploded for another run, of nine unanswered points this time, to put the score at 71-57. The Phoenix scored five of the final six points of the game to account for the final margin.
For Elon, they were led by Darius Burford with 19 points, including 14 in the second half, while Hunter Woods and Ikenna Ndugba both scored 14. Burford also led the team with six assists, while Ndugba pulled down 10 of Elon’s 48 rebounds.
-Hofstra moves to 10-4 all-time against Elon. The Pride had won the last five meetings coming into today’s game.
-Ray now has 1,334 career points to move into 17th place all-time at Hofstra. He passes Dave Bell (1,330 from 1969-72).
For more information on the Hofstra University Athletics Department fans are encouraged to click on the link seen here: