Hofstra’s Zach Cooks scored a game-high 26 points but #15 Houston staged a late second half rally to force overtime and the pulled away in the extra session as the Cougars picked up an 83-75 victory over the Pride at the Fertitta Center Tuesday night in the 2021-22 season opener for both teams.
Houston, which advanced to the Final Four last season, erased a 13-point deficit over the final 8:30 of the second half and then outscored the Pride, 14-6, in overtime.
Cooks played all 45 minutes and was 9-18 from the floor as he led three Pride players in double-figure scoring in his Hofstra debut. Aaron Estrada had 15 points in his first game in a Hofstra uniform, while Omar Silverio added 13 points. Abayomi Iyiola had six points and 11 rebounds in his inaugural game for the Pride, while another newcomer, Darlinstone Dubar, chipped in with nine points and seven rebounds.
Hofstra led 37-31 at halftime behind 25 combined points from Cooks (15) and Estrada (10). With the game tied at seven at the 16-minute mark, the Pride went on a 10-0 run over the next 3:35 to take a 17-7 lead with 12:25 to go in the opening half. Cooks scored six points in the run on back-to-back three-pointers. The Cougars rallied and pulled within three, 22-19, with 8:10 on the clock, after a jumper in the paint from Josh Carlton. Hofstra went up by six, 29-23, following a three-pointer from Kvonn Cramer with 5:13 to play. Houston went on a 5-0 run to get within one, 29-28, with 3:15 remaining. Hofstra would respond with a 5-0 run of its own with two free throws from Cook and another three-pointer from Cramer to go up 34-28 with 2:48 to go The Cougars cut the lead to three again, 34-31, before Cooks closed out the first half scoring with a three-pointer to give the Pride a six-point lead at the break.
In the second half, Hofstra led by five (47-42) before a 7-0 spurt gave the Pride their largest lead of the game up to that point, 54-42, with 12:11 to play on Silverio’s jumper. The Pride would maintain its advantage and led by as many as 13, 62-49, with 8:30 on the clock following Dubar’s three-pointer.
Houston would rally and an 8-0 run pulled the Cougars within five, 62-57, with 5:40 to play on Marcus Sasser’s three-pointer. The Pride stopped the run with back-to-back baskets but Taze Moore hit a three-pointer and Sasser followed with a layup to make it a 66-62 game with 3:00 to go. Jamal Shead cut the lead to two, 66-64, scoring on the break after a Pride turnover. Cooks would put Hofstra back up by five, 69-64, before a layup from Sasser made it 69-66 with 2:03 remaining. Neither team would score until there were 24 seconds to play when Moore tied the game for Houston with a three-pointer following steal from Shead. Hofstra held for the final shot but missed and the game went into overtime.
Sasser opened the scoring in overtime with a three-pointer that gave the Cougars their first lead since a 3-2 advantage 1:15 into the contest. Cooks would answer with a jumper that made it a 72-71 game before seven consecutive points from the Cougars gave them a 79-71 lead with 1:04 remaining. Cooks had a pair of free throws with 45 seconds left that made it 79-73. Houston would hot four consecutive free throws to go up by 10 before a Hofstra basket with 15 seconds to go wrapped up the scoring.
Sasser would finish with 25 points for the Cougars. Moore added 12 points while J’Wan Roberts had a game-high 15 rebounds.
Hofstra returns to action Saturday at Duquesne.
-The game marked the first in the head coaching career of Hofstra Coach Speedy Claxton.
-This was the first meeting between Hofstra and Houston.
-Hofstra is now 48-38 all-time in season openers.
-The Pride attempted a school-record 43 three-pointers.
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