Hempstead, N.Y. - Senior guard Stevie Mejia scored off a drive with five seconds remaining and the Pride forced a missed shot right before the buzzer as Hofstra posted a 52-50 victory over Georgia State in the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) opener on Monday night at the Mack Sports Complex.
Mejia scored a game-high 17 points and racked up four assists to help Hofstra improve to 4-10 overall and 1-0 in league play. Hofstra snapped an eight-game losing streak and won a conference opener for the second time in the last three seasons. Sophomore guard Taran Buie added 12 points and collected five rebounds.
Georgia State's R.J. Hunter was one of three Panthers in double figures, though Georgia State still dropped to 6-10 overall and 1-2 in CAA play. Hofstra now leads the all-time series, 9-3.
Sophomore Jordan Allen scored eight points on 4-of-6 shooting and had two clutch field goals in the final nine minutes to help Hofstra pick up the team's first victory since Nov. 18.
After building a 37-25 lead, Hofstra had to withstand Georgia State's full-court press. The Panthers got to within 39-38 on Denny Burguillos' layup with 10:11 left. The Pride responded on Buie's bank shot and, following a defensive stop, Mejia sent a full-court outlet pass to set up Allen's left-handed dunk and a 43-38 advantage.
Georgia State came all the way back when Burguillos hit two free throws to tie the score at 46 with less than four minutes remaining.
Hofstra, which held the Panthers to just 36 percent shooting from the floor, also got a key rebound on the offensive end when junior Stephen Nwaukoni kept a possession alive, setting up Mejia's baseline jump shot to make it 48-46. After another defensive stop, Allen's floater in the lane gave the Pride a four-point lead.
But Georgia State responded when James Vincent had a put-back to tie it at 50 with 17 seconds left. Hofstra, which had two timeouts, elected to let play continue and Mejia rewarded the decision with a drive into the lane to set up his clutch shot. It was the second time in two seasons Mejia made a game-winning basket in the final seconds of a conference game, as the guard made a layup with 6.1 seconds left to beat James Madison on the road on Jan. 21, 2012.
Devonta White, who scored 11 points for the Panthers, missed a three-pointer just before time expired as Hofstra secured the win. The Pride held Georgia State to 2-of-20 three-point shooting.
Hofstra utilized long-range shooting to make a first-half run with Mejia hitting two while Buie and senior David Imes each drilled one from beyond the arc as Hofstra built a 29-21 halftime edge. Conversely, Hofstra held the Panthers to just 1-for-12 from beyond three-point range.
The Pride ended the period on a 14-2 run over the final 7:08, holding the Panthers to just 36 percent shooting in the period.
The Pride surged to an 12-0 run late in the opening half, turning what once had been a seven-point deficit into an eight-point lead off Mejia's steal and coast-to-coast layup and Moussa Kone's dunk on the next trip down. Buie then added a right-wing three-pointer, completing a stretch in which the Pride held Georgia State without a point for more than five minutes.
Hofstra has taken a halftime lead in five games this season. The Pride will next be in action on Wednesday when the Pride travels to Delaware for a 7 p.m. CAA contest.