During a damp, rainy night in Hempstead, Long Island the Hofstra men’s basketball squad felt the chill of the outside air late in each half, as the Pride fell to St. Bonaventure 81-75 Tuesday evening at the Mack Sports Complex.
St. Bonaventure used an 11-2 run to take a 48-36 lead into halftime, seemingly turning what had been a tight contest to that point into a comfortable outcome. However, Hofstra battled back out of the gate, starting the second half on an 18-6 run to knot the game at 54 with 14:14 remaining.
A Ty Greer tip-in gave the Pride a four point lead, their largest of the game, with 5:15 to play, but Hofstra was held to just three points the remainder of the way. A Brian Bernardi 3-pointer with 2:25 remaining accounted for the Pride’s only score down the stretch.
Hofstra fell into its second major cold spell of the game at the worst possible moment, St. Bonaventure rattled off a 13-3 run to reclaim the lead and walk out with the victory.
“The end of the first half was a bad stretch,” Hofstra head coach Joe Mihalich said. “Maybe it was the combination that was out there. The second half, I don’t know. Did we run out of gas a little bit? I don’t know. … Second half I think was just them making plays.”
Jaylen Adams, St. Bonaventure’s leading scorer with 22.3 ppg entering the night, tied a career high with 31 points. The reigning A-10 co-Player of the Week and all-conference first team selection set a career high with eight rebounds, handed out five assists, and notched a near-perfect 11-12 mark from the free throw line.
Fellow junior guard and CCSU transfer Matt Mobley, who has given the Bonnies everything they could ask for with 20.7 ppg this season, added 23 points, including a key 3-pointer with 4:06 remaining to put St. Bonaventure ahead for good.
“Those two players made really big shots, especially down the stretch,” Hofstra’s Deron Powers said of Adams and Mobley. “I think that’s what made the difference in the game.”
Rokas Gustys turned in his best offensive game of the season with 20 points to lead the Pride. The junior forward notched eight points in the game’s first 4:12, but remained absent from the scoring column the remainder of the half. However, Gustys became a sparkplug in the Pride’s second half comeback, shooting 6-8 in the second stanza.
“I’m so proud of Rokas,” Mihalich said. “He’s fought through some frustrating times. If he’s doing anything wrong, he’s trying too hard.”
All five Hofstra starters finished in double figures, including freshman Eli Pemberton with 15, his eighth game of the young season with double digits. Bernardi and Greer each posted 11, while Powers added 10 points along with six assists.
The Pride are back in action Sunday afternoon in their long-awaited challenge against Kentucky at the Barclays Center as part of the Brooklyn Hoops Winter Festival.
Vincent Simone covers the MAAC, Hofstra, and more for NYC Buckets. You can follow him on Twitter @VTSimone.