I'll Be Quirky: Pride Begin Homestand After Back-To-Back Nail Biters

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Hofstra returned to the Thursday/Saturday routine in wildly entertaining and chaotic fashion over the weekend as the Pride scored the tie-breaking basket with fewer than 10 seconds left Thursday night to edge UNC Wilmington, 63-61, and gave up the tie-breaking hoop with fewer than 10 seconds left Saturday in a 69-67 loss to Charleston.

The Pride returns home this week with a Thursday/Saturday homestand against a pair of longtime rivals, Delaware and Drexel. Here is a look back at some of the facts and figures from the nail-biting southern trek and a look ahead to the Blue Hens and Dragons.

Trask Coliseum Demons Begone (Barely)

Isaac Kante’s layup off a perfect dish from Desure Buie snapped a tie with under six seconds left Thursday night and the Pride escaped with a win after holding UNC Wilmington without a shot on its final possession. The win was snapped a three-game losing streak at Trask Coliseum for Hofstra, which hadn’t won since earning a 70-69 victory on Feb. 25, 2016. 

The Pride squandered a 10-point first half deficit before surviving a second half in which neither team held a lead of more than four points. Tareq Coburn led the Pride with 15 points and nine rebounds while Eli Pemberton (14 points), Kante (12 points) and Buie (12 points) each scored in double figures.

Chewed Up In Charleston

The Pride were on the other end of the equation Saturday, when Sam Miller picked up Grant Riller’s air ball and hit the layup with nine seconds left to give Charleston the win. Hofstra didn’t call timeout and raced down the floor, but Riller stripped Jalen Ray as the latter tried to shoot with three seconds left. Desure Buie led the Pride with 19 points and a season-high nine assists while Tareq Coburn scored 16 points, all in the first half. Isaac Kante (12 points, 11 rebounds) had another double-double while Ray finished with 12 points despite playing just 25 minutes due to foul trouble.

Pride Pulling A Babe *

Hofstra is 5-2 through seven CAA games, which marks the third straight season and the fifth time in seven seasons under Joe Mihalich it has been 5-2 or better after seven league games. The Pride was 7-0 last season and 5-2 under Mihalich 2015 and 2016. Hofstra also opened 5-2 in 2006 and was 6-1 in both 2007 and 2011.

* A 5-2 record works out to a .714 winning percentage, or as many homers as Babe Ruth hit.

The Pride Through 20 Games

Hofstra’s 14-6 record is tied for the 15th-best record in program history through 20 games. The Pride most recently started 14-6 in 2015-16.

Close Shaves

Each of the Pride’s last three games, dating back to the last-second 74-72 win over Northeastern on Jan. 9, have been decided by two points. It’s the first time Hofstra’s had at least three straight games decided by two points or fewer since way back in the 1978-79 season, when the then-Flying Dutchmen actually had four consecutive games decided by two points or fewer. The streak began Dec. 19 1978, when the Dutchmen beat Florida (yup, that Florida) 68-67 at the Physical Fitness Center (yup, that PFC on the Hofstra campus). The Dutchmen then beat Manhattan, 72-70, on Dec. 23 before falling to Rider, 62-60, on Jan. 4 and Saint Peter’s, 70-69, on Jan. 10.

Driving In The 60s

The Pride scored fewer than 70 points in back-to-back conference games for the first time since Jan. 25-27, 2018, when Hofstra lost to Northeastern, 81-67, and beat Delaware, 64-59. The last two instances of back-to-back 60-something games are the only in league play for Hofstra since Joe Mihalich’s first season in 2013-14, when the rebuilding Pride scored under 70 points in back-to-back games three times.

Winning In The 60s

The Pride is 3-2 when scoring under 70 points this season after going just 13-30 in such games in Mihalich’s first six seasons. The 63 points against UNC Wilmington marked Hofstra’s third-fewest in a victory under Mihalich, ahead of only a 61-52 win over UNC Wilmington on Feb. 8, 2014 and a 58-56 win over Delaware on Dec. 31, 2016.

Coburn Heats Up ...

Tareq Coburn got off to a scorching start Saturday, when he scored 10 points in the first 2:33 and 13 points in the first 3:37. It was the fastest a Hofstra player has gotten into double digits — by far — since at least the start of the 2018-19 season. Justin Wright-Foreman scored 10 points against Marshall in the first 6:07 on Nov. 11, 2018.

... And Coburn Cools Down

Coburn scored all 16 of his points Saturday in the first half. That’s the most points a Hofstra player has scored in the first half before going scoreless in the second half since…Coburn scored all 21 of his points in the first half against Elon on Feb. 7, 2019. Coburn has now had three games in which he’s reached double digits in the first half and then not scored again. He scored all 10 of his points in the first half against San Diego on Nov. 27.

Filling JT's Shoes

Graduate senior Jacquil Taylor made his only season with Hofstra a memorable one last year, but Isaac Kante, who sat out last season as a transfer from Georgia, has thus far matched Taylor’s production at the center spot through 20 games. Kante is averaging 10.1 points and 7.3 rebounds over 27.6 minutes and has collected five double-doubles. 

After 20 games last season, Taylor was averaging 7.0 points and 7.9 rebounds over 23.7 minutes while collecting one double-double. But Taylor was just beginning to heat up in January and averaged a double-double — 10.5 points and 10.0 rebounds over 30.6 minutes — in the Pride’s final 15 games of last season.

Movin' On Up

Desure Buie continued climbing Hofstra’s all-time scoring list during the southern road trip, when he scored 12 points Thursday to move past Percy Johnson into 35th place and scored 19 points Saturday to increase his career total to 1,066 points and surge past Darius Burton into 34th place. Buie enters Thursday needing four points to surpass Derrick Flowers for 33rd place.

The Rest Of The Scoring List

Been a while since we checked in on the Hofstra all-time scoring list, which is still a work in progress, but there’s been plenty of movement beyond Eli Pemberton and Desure Buie over the last month.

Jalen Ray, 726

With 83 points over the last eight games, Ray has leapfrogged at least nine players, including the late great Zeke Upshaw (655 points in his lone season in 2013-14) as well as CAA-era Pride players such as Danny Walker, Greg Washington, Wendell Gibson, Mike Radziejewski and David Imes as well as Tim Beckett, who was one of Jay Wright’s first recruits.

Tareq Coburn, 510

Coburn has scored 89 points over the last eight games to move past at least 12 players, including Woody Souffrant and Lawrence Thomas, each of whom finished their careers with 498 points and were surpassed by Coburn on Saturday. 

Isaac Kante, 202

Kante has begun rounding into form by collecting 95 points over the last eight games to jump past no fewer than 20 players including Mike Davis-Sabb (180 points), Osei Miller (184 points) and the tandem of Matt Carpenter and Brad Kelleher (187 points each) on Saturday.

Omar Silverio, 77

Silverio played in six of the Pride’s last nine games and scored 27 points in that span to move past at least 10 players. His six points on Saturday vaulted him past 2018-19 backup big man Dan Dwyer (74 points).

Kevin Schutte, 49

Schutte has just six points over the last nine games, but his lone basket on Saturday snapped a four-game scoring drought and snapped a tie with Stanley Martin.

KenPom Ponderings

The Pride’s rollercoaster ride in the KenPom.com rankings again continued last week. Hofstra opened last week at no. 141 and will enter this week at no. 148. That moved the Pride into third in the CAA, whose top four teams are separated by just 14 spots. Charleston ranks first at 136 and is followed by Northeastern (147), Hofstra and William & Mary (150). Only five other mid-major leagues have their top two KenPom teams separated by fewer than 14 spots.

So, Who Has A Double-Digit Scoring Streak Now?

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 16 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. The 63-61 win over UNC Wilmington on Thursday was not a unicorn score for Hofstra, which most recently earned a 63-61 win over Delaware on Feb. 4, 2004. 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’s losing streak hit seven games on Jan. 17, 1995, when they fell to Yale, 60-54, in a non-league game. (I drove there from my parents’ house) The skid left the Dutchmen with a 2-12 overall record and a 1-5 mark in the North Atlantic Conference.

... This Is Now

Justin Wright-Foreman spent three games on the Utah Jazz’s roster last week, when he was a DNP-CD for wins over the Washington Wizards and Brooklyn Nets and a loss to the New Orleans Pelicans. He was captured putting on quite the dunking display prior to the game against the Nets just a few miles west of the Hofstra campus.

Wright-Foreman was with the Jazz to serve as a 1-on-1 partner for the rehabbing Mike Conley, who returned from a left hamstring injury on Saturday. With Conley back, Wright-Foreman is likely to return to the Jazz’s G-League affiliate, the Salt Lake City Stars, this week.

What's Next?

The Pride comes home to host Delaware on Thursday and Drexel on Saturday. Hofstra has won nine straight against its multi-conference rivals over the last two seasons. Five of those wins were recorded last season, when the Pride swept both foes in the regular season before outlasting Delaware 78-74 in overtime in the CAA semifinals. The Pride beat the Blue Hens by a combined 67 points in the two regular season meetings.

Hofstra is 59-32 all-time against Delaware and 43-46 against Drexel. The Blue Hens and Dragons are the Pride’s most common opponents and were conference foes in the East Coast Conference and North Atlantic Conference/America East prior to the three schools joining the CAA, along with Towson, prior to the 2001-02 season.

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