Hempstead, NY - Graduate forward Zeke Upshaw posted his third 30-point game of the season and his seventh of 25 points or more, finishing with 33. But it was not enough as Hofstra fell to Towson, 83-77, in a Colonial Athletic Association game at the Mack Sports Complex.
Hofstra fell to 8-21 with the loss and is 4-10 in the CAA. Towson improved to 20-9 on the year and is 11-3 in the CAA.
Trailing by six at halftime, Hofstra opened the final stanza with a 6-0 run behind two buckets from sophomore forward Jordan Allen and one from junior forward Moussa Kone to tie the score at 35. Hofstra would take its first lead since early in the first half, 44-43, on a free throw from Allen with 12:55 remaining. The lead was short-lived as John Davis’ two free throws 17 seconds later gave the Tigers back the lead, 45-44, and back-to-back Timajh Parker-Rivera layups extended the lead to 49-44 with 11:26 left.
The Pride would get within three, 49-46, on an Upshaw layup. But that was as close as the Pride would get as Towson pulled away. Leading 55-51, the Tigers would go on a 12-2 run to take a 67-53 with 4:04 to play. The lead would grow to as many as 15, 69-54, with 3:11 left on a pair of Rafriel Guthrie free throws.
Hofstra would battle back and cut the deficit to eight, 71-63, on freshman Jamall Robinson’s jumper with 2:08 to play. After the Tigers went up by nine, Upshaw was fouled on a three-point attempt and converted all three free throws to bring Hofstra within six, 74-68, with 1:13 to go. With Towson up eight once again, 78-70, with 51 seconds left, Upshaw pulled the Pride within five by sinking his third three-pointer of the game.
Towson would hold the Pride off by converting nine of 12 free throws down the stretch. The Tigers were 33-41 from the line during the game, while Hofstra was 17-21 from the stripe.
The teams played a tightly contested first half, featuring three tie scores and seven lead changes in the first six minutes. Graduate guard Dion Nesmith had the hot hand for the Pride in the early going as he connected on two three-pointers from the top of the arc for Hofstra’s first six points and would finish with 11 points in the opening 20 minutes.
The Tigers took the lead, 15-12, on a Jerrelle Benimon three-pointer with 13:25 to go in the half. Towson would extend the lead to seven, 23-16, on a Benimon jumper with 9:28 to go in the first. Hofstra responded with a 5-0 run behind a basket from Upshaw and another three-pointer from Nesmith to get within two at 23-21 with 7:54 left. The two teams would trade 5-0 runs before the Tigers closed the half with a 7-3 spurt to take a 35-29 lead at halftime.
Upshaw, who was 12-12 from the free throw line, was joined in double-figures by Nesmith (14 points), Allen (12) and Robinson (10). Kone added eight points, a career-high tying 12 rebounds and a career-high six blocks. The 12-12 performance from the line was the first time a Pride player was perfect from the charity stripe with at least 10 attempts since Charles Jenkins was 10-10 against Delaware on January 7, 2009. In Upshaw's three 30-plus point games he has totaled 101 points, which is one more than he scored in 62 career games over three seasons at Illinois State.
Benimon led Towson with 22 points and six rebounds. Guthrie added 16 points and Mike Burwell chipped in 15 points.
Hofstra is back in action Wednesday at William & Mary. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m.