Philadelphia, Pa. – Freshman Krystal Luciano hit a clutch layup with 8.4 seconds left to break a deadlock and lift Hofstra to a 68-66 victory over Drexel in a Colonial Athletic Association matchup Sunday afternoon at the Daskalakis Athletic Center.
Luciano missed the free throw on the three-point play on Hofstra’s final possession following her driving lay-in, but the Pride forced a Meghan Creighton missed three-pointer at the buzzer to secure the victory. Hofstra is now on a season-high three-game winning streak and improved its record to 9-10 and 4-4 in CAA action. Drexel, the defending WNIT champions, entered in second place in the league but fell to 10-10 and 5-2.
Loftus tied a career high in points, first set versus Albany on New Year’s Day, and doubled her previous rebounding high to help Hofstra defeat Drexel for the fifth time in the last six games and improve its all-time record in the series to 27-34.
Creighton led the Dragons with 18 points and Fiona Flanagan scored 12 points in a back-and-forth contest that featured 15 lead changes.
Abby Redick tied at 66 but couldn’t prevent Luciano from driving by her on the right block. Luciano, the first-year point guard, drew the contact and made the shot as the Hofstra bench erupted. Luciano finished with nine points and two assists.
Payton scored in double figures for the 11th time this season and sixth time in the last eight contests in shooting 8-of-14 from the field. She tied a career high in points, which was first set versus Boston College on Nov. 12.
With the score tied at 63, freshman Elo Edeferioka made 1-of-2 free throws. Redick countered with a strong pivot move in the paint to gain separation and an off-the-glass layup for a 65-64 lead in the final minute. Payton followed with a jumper before Redick made 1-of-2 free throws to tie it at 66 with 33 seconds left, setting up Luciano’s dramatic basket.
Edeferioka contributed seven points and 11 rebounds and sophomore Asia Jackson registered seven points, four rebounds and three assists. Hofstra is now at .500 in conference play for the first time this season.
The Pride started the game with one of its best five-minute stretches of the season when the Pride hit six of its first seven shots from the field for a 15-4 lead. Loftus swished her first two attempts from beyond the arc as Hofstra hit its first four three-point attempts.
But Drexel made a run to tie the halftime score at 34. The Dragons went on a 12-0 run for 25-22 lead on Creighton’s right-wing three-pointer off of Pearson’s pass. Creighton made four three-pointers in the half as part of a 13-point effort.
Payton nearly matched Creighton with nine points in the opening half with three three-pointers and three rebounds. Hofstra also took advantage of its chances from the line in making all 10 of its free throw attempts.
Hofstra will next be in action on Thursday when the Pride hits the road again to take on Towson at 7 p.m. from the new SECU Arena.