Another two-game road trip, another two wins for the Hofstra men’s basketball team, which ran its winning streak to eight games and locked up at least a share of the CAA regular season crown by pulling away in the final few minutes to beat Drexel 81-74 last Thursday and overcoming a slow start to earn a 78-62 victory at Delaware on Saturday.
The Pride will clinch the no. 1 seed in the conference tournament with one more win or a loss by William & Mary. Hofstra gets its first chance to lock up the top seed Thursday, when it hosts Towson, before closing out the regular season with Senior Day on Saturday against James Madison. Here is a look back at some of the facts and figures from the wins over the Dragons and Blue Hens and a look ahead to what the Pride will try to accomplish against the Tigers and Dukes.
Dodging The Dragons' Fire
Eli Pemberton’s old-fashioned 3-point play with 4:33 left gave Hofstra the lead for good and his 3-pointer on the next possession began an 8-0 run that allowed the Pride to finally shed Drexel in a tight game in Philadelphia.
Neither team led by more than five points before Desure Buie followed Pemberton’s 3-pointer with his own old-fashioned 3-point play to put Hofstra up 76-69. Buie finished with a game-high 26 points and also had six assists and three steals while Isaac Kante had 20 points and six rebounds. Pemberton had 19 points and six rebounds for the Pride, who shot 21-of-24 from the free throw line.
Big Comeback Over The Blue Hens
Buie (27 points) and Pemberton (25 points) nearly outscored Delaware by themselves Saturday, when the Pride gave up the game’s first eight points but rode a dominant second half to victory. Hofstra outscored Delaware 38-19 over the final 14:02, a stretch that began with 11 unanswered points by Buie and Pemberton. The seniors combined for 28 points in the run. Buie added nine assists, six rebounds and three steals while Pemberton had nine rebounds. Kante and Tareq Coburn had 11 points apiece.
One More For The One
With the two wins last weekend, the Pride clinched at least a share of the CAA regular season title for the second year in a row. Hofstra will win the outright regular season championship and earn the no. 1 seed in the conference tournament with a win in either of its final two games or a loss by William & Mary.
The Pride has won back-to-back regular season championships just once before at the Division I level — back in 2000-01, when the then-Flying Dutchmen posted consecutive 16-2 seasons in the America East before winning the conference tournament and reaching the NCAAs.
Hofstra is trying to become the sixth CAA school to win back-to-back outright regular season crown and the first since VCU completed a three-peat in 2009.
The Pride Through 29 Games
Hofstra’s 22-7 record is tied for the seventh-best record in program history through 29 games. Thirty-two Hofstra teams have played at least 29 games. The Pride was most recently 22-7 in 1976-77, when the then-Flying Dutchmen made their second straight trip to the NCAA Tournament. Each of the five previous Division I-era Hofstra teams to be 22-7 or better through 29 games reached either the NCAA Tournament or the NIT.
The Pride’s eight-game winning streak marks the 21st time in school history Hofstra has won at least eight straight games.
8⃣ STRAIGHT WINS❗— Hofstra Men's Basketball (@HofstraMBB) February 23, 2020
1⃣1⃣ ROAD WINS (leads nation)❗️
1⃣st in @CAABasketball (and clinches at least a share of regular season title)❗️
MBB: #Hofstra Clinches Share Of Regular Season Title With Eighth Straight Win - https://t.co/uH7JWtaVos #RoarWithPride pic.twitter.com/lEpZBZgTCb
Coupled with last season’s 16-game winning streak, this is the first time Hofstra has recorded winning streaks of at least eight games in consecutive seasons since the then-Flying Dutchmen won 10 straight games during the 1999-2000 season and a single-season school-record 18 straight games during the 2000-2001 season.
The 22-22 Club
The Pride has 22 wins after going 27-7 last season. That makes Hofstra one of 19 Division I teams with at least 22 wins in each of the last two seasons (statistics through Tuesday).
Another Select Club
Hofstra has lost back-to-back games just twice since the start of the 2018-19 season. The Pride is one of just 15 Division I teams with two or fewer losing streaks, and none of them lasting more than two games, over the last two seasons.
Murray State (1)
New Mexico State (1)
East Tennessee State (2)
UNC Greensboro (2)
San Diego State (2)
The Defense Is Not Resting
The Pride has allowed 75 points or fewer in 13 straight games — the longest streak since Mihalich arrived in 2013-14 and the longest since a 15-game stretch from Jan. 1-Feb. 18, 2013 in which the Pride, depleted by injuries and suspensions, went 3-12.
Buie Resumes His Climb
Desure Buie’s climb up the all-time Hofstra scoring list stalled on Feb. 15, when he scored nine points to remain in 27th place. But he’s made up for lost time over the last two games, first by scoring 26 points against Drexel to jump over ex-teammates Brian Bernardi, Juan’ya Green and Rokas Gustys into 24th place and then by scoring 27 points against Delaware to surpass John Mills, Demetrius Dudley and Carlos Rivera to move into 21st place.
WHAT A YEAR❗️— Hofstra Men's Basketball (@HofstraMBB) February 25, 2020
That's now ✌️ @MetBasketballW Player of the Week awards this season for Desure Buie and 4⃣ @CAABasketball Player of the Week awards‼️
MBB: #Hofstra's Desure Buie Named MBWA Player Of The Week - https://t.co/p1IqoTElLv#RoarWithPride pic.twitter.com/p5Y36YFUH6
Buie enters Thursday night’s game needing seven points to move past Roberto Gittens into 20th place. Here is how Buie has climbed up the list since joining the 1,000-point club on Jan. 4:
Jan. 4: 38th place
Jan. 9: 36th place
Jan. 16: 35th place
Jan. 18: 34th place
Jan. 23: 33rd place
Jan. 25: 32nd place
Jan. 30: 31st place
Feb. 1: 29th place
Feb. 8: T27th place
Feb. 13: 27th place
Feb. 15: 27th place
Feb. 20: 24th place
Feb. 22: 21st place
With his 20-point effort against Drexel last Thursday, Isaac Kante became the first Hofstra center to post back-to-back 20-point games since Rokas Gustys, who had 25 points in the Pride’s 86-82 overtime loss to James Madison on Jan. 16, 2016 and 23 points in a 96-92 triple overtime victory over Northeastern five days later.
Buie's Big Game
Desure Buie finished with 27 points, nine assists, six rebounds and three steals against Delaware on Saturday. Per CollegeBasketballReference.com, just three other Division I players this season have compiled at least 27 points, nine assists, six rebounds and three steals in a single game. Buie is also just the third Hofstra player since 2010-11 to finish with at least 25 points, five assists, five rebounds and three steals in a single game. Charles Jenkins and Juan’ya Green each did it twice apiece.
Elite At The Free Throw Line (Part one)
Eli Pemberton went 10-for-10 from the free throw line Saturday. It was the second time in his career he’s gone 10-for-10 from the line — he also did it against Rider on Dec. 9, 2017 — as well as the second time this season a Hofstra player has been perfect from the free throw line in 10 or more attempts.
Desure Buie was 13-of-13 against UCLA on Nov. 21. Pemberton is the first Hofstra player in the CAA era to have two games in which he was perfect from the free throw line while taking at least 10 attempts.
Elite At The Free Throw Line (Part two)
Pemberton’s perfect afternoon Saturday extended his streak of consecutive made free throws to 34 dating back to Feb. 1. He is just one free throw shy of tying Buie for the most consecutive free throws made by a Hofstra player in the Joe Mihalich era. Buie drained 35 straight free throws earlier this season (Nov. 21 through Dec. 7).
One Win Over Everyone
The win over Delaware avenged a 73-71 defeat on Jan. 23 and gave the Pride at least one victory against every CAA foe for the second straight regular season. It’s just the third time Hofstra has beaten every CAA foe in the regular season. The Pride also beat all nine CAA teams during the 2004-05 season. The CAA played an unbalanced schedule in which each team faced a handful of opponents just once per season from 2005-06 through 2012-13.
The Pride’s surge has kept it the CAA’s top-ranked team at KenPom.com. Hofstra, which climbed to the top of the CAA's KenPom.com rankings for the fourth time this season following an 83-60 win over William & Mary on Feb. 1, entered today at a season-high no. 108. Northeastern (141) is second, followed by Charleston (165), Towson (168) and Delaware (184).
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 Eli Pemberton, who has scored in double digits in nine consecutive games.
What's A Unicorn Score And How Many Do The Pride Have Now?
A unicorn score is a score by which the Pride have never won before. Hofstra earned another unicorn score victory Saturday — its 11th of the season, one more than 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.
11/9/19: 94-74 over Monmouth
11/15/19: 111-69 over New York Tech
11/21/19: 88-78 over UCLA
12/1/19: 91-69 over Holy Cross
12/2/19: 64-57 over Canisius
12/10/19: 71-63 over Stony Brook
1/4/20: 102-75 over Elon
1/30/20: 86-63 over Elon
2/1/20: 83-60 over William & Mary
2/15/20: 78-64 over UNC Wilmington
2/22/20: 78-62 over Delaware
The Pride will look to make a bit of history by closing out CAA play with games against Towson on Saturday and James Madison on Saturday. Hofstra will clinch the outright no. 1 seed in the conference tournament with a win in either game. The Pride/Flying Dutchmen have never clinched an outright regular season crown at home in the Division I era.
Hofstra opened CAA play this season by beating James Madison, 82-76, on Dec. 28 and by outlasting Towson, 75-67, two days later. The Pride came back from double-digit second-half deficits in both wins to improve to 44-26 all-time against Towson and 21-13 all-time against James Madison. It will be looking to sweep both the Tigers and Dukes for the third straight season.