Aaron Estrada scored 18 of his career-high tying 20 points in the first half and Jalen Ray hit a three-pointer with 18 seconds to play that provided a much-needed cushion as Hofstra held off Princeton’s second half rally in an 81-77 victory Wednesday night at the David S. Mack Sports and Exhibition Complex. The Tigers trailed by as many as 19 points in the second half before getting as close as one in the final minute.
Hofstra moved to 4-4 on the season with the win, its third consecutive victory. Princeton slipped to 5-3 on the year with the loss.
Estrada shot 9-15 from the floor and added seven assists to lead four players in double-figures. Omar Silverio continued his strong play with 17 points and added five rebounds. Darlinstone Dubar had 15 points and shot 7-8 from the floor. Zach Cooks chipped in with 13 points, seven assists, and four steals. Ray finished with eight points and pulled down a team-high seven rebounds.
The teams traded baskets in the opening minutes with Hofstra holding a 12-11 lead at the first media timeout. Hofstra was 6-9 from the floor in the opening minutes while the Tigers were 4-8 overall and 3-6 from three-point range. The Pride come out of the time out and went on an 8-0 run to lead 20-11 with 14:27 to go after a three-pointer from Dubar. Trailing 22-13, the Tigers went on a 7-0 run to make it a two-point game (22-20) with 10:41 remaining. The Pride scored five straight points to go back up by seven. Hofstra would lead by as many as 18, 48-30, before settling for a 16-point lead at the half, 50-34. The Pride outscored Princeton, 28-14 over the final 10:41 of the opening stanza.
A three-point play from Silverio with 15:50 on the clock gave the Pride a 19-point lead, 59-40. Princeton responded with an 8-0 run to cut its deficit to 11, 59-48, following a three-pointer from Ethan Wright with 14:27 to go. A 7-2 run by the Pride, capped off by a three-pointer from Ray, put Hofstra back up by 16, 66-50, with 11:32 to play. The Tigers would get within seven, 73-66, following a three-point play from Max Johns with 5:10 to play. Silverio answered with a three-pointer on Hofstra’s next possession to push the lead back to 10. Princeton would not go quietly and ran off seven consecutive points to make it 76-73 with 2:05 to play. Following a Dubar layup, Wright got Princeton within three once again with a layup of his own with 1:39 to play.
Following an empty possession by the Pride, the Tigers made it a one-point game with 48 ticks on the clock. Ray answered with a three for the Pride to push the lead back to four, 81-77 with 18 seconds to play and the Tigers came up empty on their next possession with the Pride getting the rebound with nine seconds left. Princeton was under the foul limit and fouled on the first inbounds to force a second. The Pride got the ball in but turned it over in the frontcourt. The Tigers had a last second shot that hit off the rim as time expired.
Princeton’s Jaelin Llewellyn led all-scorers with 24 points. Ryan Langborn added 16 points, while Tosan Evbuomwan had 14 points. Wright contributed 13 points and a game-high 11 rebounds.
Hofstra is back in action at home on Saturday at 2 p.m. against Bucknell. Tickets are available for purchase at HofstraTickets.com, by calling (516) HOF-TIXX, or by visiting the Hofstra Athletic Ticket Office in the lobby of the Mack Sports Complex during normal business hours.
-Hofstra now leads the all-time series with Princeton, 4-3.
-Ray moved into a tie for second place with Eli Pemberton for most career games played with 129.
-Hofstra was 10-10 from the free throw line
-Cooks seven assists matched his career high.
-Hofstra is 3-0 at home in 2021-22 and 44-12 over the last four-plus seasons.
-Hofstra had a season-high 22 assists.
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