Hempstead, N.Y. – Freshman guard Kelly Loftus tallied six of her career-high 14 points in the final 1:27 to lead Hofstra to a 60-56 non-conference victory over the Great Danes of Albany at the Mack Sports Complex Wednesday afternoon.
Hofstra, which snapped a three-game losing slide, improved to 5-6 on the season. Albany, which has dropped three of its last four contests, fell to 9-3.
Senior Anma Onyeuku added a team-high 15 points and eight rebounds for the Pride while freshman Krystal Luciano notched 13 points and team highs of six assists and four steals. The Pride shot 38 percent (20-for-53) from the field and forced 22 Albany turnovers. More than half of Hofstra’s total points came from its freshman class as Loftus, Luciano and Elo Edeferioka (four points and five rebounds) accounted for 31 points.
Sophomore Shereesha Richards led Albany with 23 points and a career-high 16 rebounds including seven offensive caroms. Sophomore guard Erin Coughlin added 12 points while 6’9 junior center Megan Craig chipped in with 11 points and five rebounds. The Great Danes shot 39 percent (18-for-46) from the field.
Hofstra remained undefeated in the all-time series (4-0) by defeating an Albany squad that won last season’s America East tile and advanced to the NCAA Tournament.
In a close contest that included nine lead changes, including five lead in the second half, and seven tied scores with five in the second half, Craig hit one of two free throws with 1:45 to play in regulation to tie the contest at 53. But Loftus hit a layup 18 seconds later to give the Pride a 55-53 advantage. After Albany missed a jumper inside and Hofstra had a turnover, Craig brought the Great Danes to within one by hitting one of two free throws with 22 seconds to play.
Loftus then converted two more free throws with 17 seconds remaining to boost the Pride lead to 57-54. Following a turnover and a foul by Albany, Luciano hot one of two free throws with eight seconds remaining to make it a two-possession game at 58-54.
The Great Danes got what they were looking for when junior Sarah Royals was fouled attempting a three-pointer with three ticks remaining. Royals hit the first, missed the second and hit the third to close to 58-56. Loftus was fouled on the inbound and converted both shots from the charity stripe to close out the scoring.
The first half featured four lead changes and two tied scores including at the break at 28-all. After seeing a four-point lead cut to 12-11 on a three-pointer by Luciano at the 14:21 mark of the first period, the Great Danes of Albany went on a 12-4 run over the next 3:48 to open up the biggest lead of the half at 24-15 following Coughlin’s three-pointer with 10:15 to play in the half. Craig had four in the run with Coughlin and Richards each adding three for Albany.
But Hofstra responded both offensive and defensively and went on a 13-4 run the remainder of the half to tie the game at 28 on two free throws by Onyeuku at the 1:20 mark. Onyeuku had eight points in the run and sophomore Alexis Carter added four for the Pride while holding the Great Danes to just one field goal, another Coughlin three-pointer, over the final 10:14 of the period. Albany was 10-for-21 (48 percent) from the field but committed 15 turnovers in the first 20 minutes. Hofstra shot 30 percent (9-for-30) from the field and tallied eight steals in the first half.
Hofstra will return to action on Sunday, Jan. 5 when the Pride travel to Newark, Delaware and begin Colonial Athletic Association play against the Blue Hens of Delaware. Game time at the Bob Carpenter Center is 2 p.m.