I'll Be Quirky: Eli Pemberton Plays The Hero

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Hofstra played just one game last week, but it was a doozy as Eli Pemberton hit a layup with half a second left to cap an instant classic Thursday night and lift the Pride to a 74-72 win over Northeastern. 

The Pride resumes the usual Thursday/Saturday schedule this week when it hits the road for a southern trek to UNC Wilmington and Charleston. Here is a look back at some of the facts and figures from the Northeastern win and a look ahead to the Seahawks and Cougars.

A Boston Barn Burner

The Pride led by 16 at the half but Northeastern outscored Hofstra 40-23 over the first 15 minutes of the second half before Pemberton and Desure Buie combined to fight off the Huskies. Pemberton and Buie actually combined to score Hofstra’s final 21 points over the last 10 minutes. 

Northeastern took two one-point leads but Buie responded with go-ahead baskets each time for Hofstra, which went up 66-64 on his 3-pointer with 3:15 left and clung to the narrow advantage until Jordan Roland (25 second half points) drained a 3-pointer to tie the game at 72-72 with 13 seconds left. 

The Pride didn’t call timeout and Buie passed to Pemberton, who drove the lane against three Huskies, switched the ball to his left hand and banked in the game-winner.

High Five

Hofstra is 4-1 through five CAA games, which marks the fifth time it has opened either 4-1 or 5-0. The Pride qualified for postseason play each of the previous four times it opened 4-1 or better, including last season, when Hofstra raced out to a 9-0 start and won the regular season title.

The Pride Through 18 Games

Hofstra’s 13-5 record is tied for the 14th-best record in program history through 18 games. The Pride most recently started 13-5 in 2014-15.

History Repeats Itself

As our friend Jaden Daly noted Thursday night, this marked the second time in just over 52 weeks Hofstra broke a 72-72 tie with Northeastern on a last-second basket. 

Last Jan. 5, Justin Wright-Foreman hit a running 34-footer as time expired to lift the Pride to a 75-72 win on Long Island. 

(If anyone asks who actually came up with this fantastic nugget, I will go all Moe after he stole Homer’s recipe for a Flaming Homer and named it after himself)

History Doesn't Quite Repeat Itself

As some of us may recall, Northeastern led Hofstra by 16 points at the half of the CAA championship game Mar. 12. The Pride then opened the second half on a 28-12 run to tie the game but could never get over the hump and fell, 82-74. 

Fantastic Four

The Pride had just four players score Thursday as Pemberton (24 points), Buie (23 points), Isaac Kante (15 points) and Jalen Ray (12 points) combined for all 74 points. Starter Tareq Coburn was scoreless on two field goal attempts over 18 minutes while reserves Omar Silverio, Stafford Trueheart and Kevin Schutte were 0-for-4 over 29 minutes. 

It is the first time in at least 30 years (as far back as my records go at home) that fewer than five players have scored in a game for Hofstra.

Kan Do

Isaac Kante continued surging Thursday, when he drained all seven of his field goal attempts and went 1-for-2 from the free throw line. He is just the sixth Hofstra player in the CAA era to enjoy a perfect shooting night while attempting at least seven field goals, Jacquil Taylor did it twice last season while Rokas Gustys, Moussa Kone, Ameen Tanksley and David Imes did it once apiece.

In addition, Kante has made his last 11 field goals dating back to the second half of the 102-75 win over Elon on Jan. 4, which is the longest streak for a Hofstra player since Kone made 12 straight over a two-game span Feb, 12-15, 2015, when he hit his final two shots against Northeastern and all 10 against Drexel, respectively.

Movin' On Up

Big efforts Thursday night by Eli Pemberton and Desure Buie helped them both move up Hofstra’s all-time scoring list. With his game-winning basket, Pemberton snapped a tie with Norman Richardson (1997-2001) and took sole possession of 10th place with 1,679 points. Ninth place is occupied by David Taylor, who scored 1,818 points.

Buie, playing his first full game as a member of the 1,000-point club, leapfrogged John Irving (1,018 points) and James Shaffer (1,022 points) into 36th place with 1,035 points. Percy Johnson ranks 35th with 1,045 points.

KenPom Ponderings

The Pride’s rollercoaster ride in the KenPom.com rankings continued last week. Hofstra jumped from no. 148 as of last Monday morning to no. 141 this morning. That’s fourth in the CAA, though the top four teams are separated by just 13 spots. Charleston ranks first at 129 and then Northeastern (139), William & Mary (140) and Hofstra are one after the other

So Who Has A Double-Digit Scoring Streak?

Justin Wright-Foreman, as you may or may not recall, ended his Hofstra career by scoring in double figures in each of his last 88 games. The longest such streak now belongs to Desure Buie, who has 14 straight double-digit efforts.

What's A Unicorn Score & How Many Do The Pride Have Now?

A unicorn score is a score by which the Pride have never won before. Last Thursday’s win was not a unicorn score for Hofstra, which most recently earned a 74-72 win over Coppin State on Nov. 11, 2016. The Pride has seven unicorn scores this season after posting 10 unicorn scores last season. The term unicorn score was coined by New York Mets superfan, historian and blogger Greg Prince to describe a score by which the Mets had never previously won. 

That Was Then ...

Jay Wright began his head coaching career at Hofstra 25 years ago this fall. The then-Flying Dutchmen lost their fifth straight game and fell to 2-10 on the season 25 years ago yesterday, when Manhattan beat Hofstra, 78-57, in a non-league at the Physical Fitness Center. The previous four losses were all in North Atlantic Conference play for the Dutchmen, who fell to 1-6 in league play following a 70-61 loss to Delaware on Jan. 10.

... This Is Now

Justin Wright-Foreman was promoted to the Utah Jazz yesterday, when he took the roster spot of the ill Donovan Mitchell. Wright-Foreman didn’t play in the Jazz’s 127-116 win over the Washington Wizards, though The Salt Lake City Tribune indicated he could remain with the team to oppose point guard Mike Conley in practice as Conley rounds into form following a left hamstring injury. 

The Jazz visit New York for a game against the Brooklyn Nets on Tuesday night.

What's Next?

The Pride heads south to face UNC Wilmington on Thursday and College of Charleston on Saturday. While the Seahawks (0-6) are the CAA’s lone winless team in league play, Trask Coliseum has been a nightmarish place to play lately for Hofstra, which has lost its last three games at UNC Wilmington. Last Feb. 16, the 4-10 Seahawks earned their final win of the regular season by stunning 12-1 Hofstra, 87-79.

Two days earlier, the Pride snapped a three-game losing streak at College of Charleston by outlasting the Cougars, 99-95. Hofstra went on a 19-0 run in the second half but had to withstand a game-ending 38-18 run by Charleston.

Hofstra is 20-22 all-time against UNC Wilmington and 6-6 against Charleston. Both series began when the schools became conference rivals in 2001-02 and 2013-14, respectively.

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