Frantz Massenat posted a career-high with 32 points and fell just one assist shy of a double-double as he powered Drexel to a 77-74 victory over Hofstra Wednesday night at the Mack Sports Complex in Hempstead, NY.
Zeke Upshaw led the Pride with 27 points, but it was not enough to get past Drexel and the hot hand of Massenat.
“We lost the game in the first half,” said Hofstra head coach Joe Mihalich. “They got 40 points in the first half. We didn’t guard their shooters well, we didn’t guard the post well, and we didn’t rebound well.”
Drexel was led by Massenat’s career performance, but also had Chris Fouch post 19 points in support. The two of them took all but one of Drexel’s three-point attempts. The Dragons finished 10 for 21 from behind the arc after making just two shots from long range in the second half. Drexel has shot 42% from three-point range over the last three games.
“He was unbelievable tonight,” said Drexel head coach Bruiser Flint of Massenat’s performance. “We needed every point and every assist that he gave us tonight. Defensively he played well, offensively he played well, and we needed every minute of it.”
Though not known as a particularly effective team from long range, Drexel was lights-out from behind the arc in the first half. The Dragons came into Wednesday’s contest shooting just 30% from 3-point range – good for 323rd in the nation, but knocked down eight of their 13 attempts from long range in the opening half.
Drexel used their hot shooting to open an 11-point lead at the 7:38 mark, but Upshaw’s first basket of the game at 7:21 sparked an 11-2 Hofstra run which pulled the Pride within two. However, the run was cut short before Hofstra could threaten the lead when Massenat knocked down his fourth three-pointer of the half. The teams would go on to trade baskets in the final minutes of the frame before Massenat added one final three-pointer at the buzzer to give Drexel a 40-32 lead at halftime.
Massenat made five three-pointers and had 17 points at the break, but he and the rest of the Drexel squad suddenly fell cold in the second half. The Dragons made just one field goal in the first 7:40 of the second frame as Hofstra quickly began to fight their way back.
Darren Payen’s free throw at the 13:58 mark pulled the Pride even at 47 and Jamall Robinson’s three-pointer soon after gave Hofstra their first lead of the game. Hofstra led by as much as five midway through the half, but the Drexel offense picked up once again. Both teams battled back and forth as the lead changed hands 10 times over the course of the second half.
The game was knotted at 66 with 2:26 to play when Massenat put the Dragons up for good. Drexel did have trouble hanging on to their lead in the waning moments of the game as they missed six free throws down the stretch to leave Hofstra with a glimmer of hope. With Drexel up 76-74 and six seconds to play, Massenat missed the first of two free throws before sinking the second. However, the Pride could only manage a poor look at a half-court heave on their final possession, which fell well short.
Four Hofstra players scored in double digits, led by Upshaw’s 27. Robinson posted 15 points and 10 rebounds for his first career double-double. Dion Nesmith had 13 points and eight assists while Moussa Kone rounded out the scoring with 10 points.
Depth continues to be an issue for Mihalich’s squad, as Upshaw, Robinson, and Nesmith all played a full 40 minutes. Jordan Allen missed his third consecutive game after sustaining a head injury against William & Mary earlier in the month.
Hofstra returns to action Saturday at Charleston, in their first meeting on January 11, Hofstra came away with a 75-71 victory.