Hempstead, NY - Junior Stephen Nwaukoni scored a career-high 13 points to lead six Hofstra players in double figures as the Pride defeated the Firebirds of the University of the District of Columbia, 74-59, on day two of the Hempstead subregional of the 2K Sports Classic benefitting Wounded Warrior Project at the Mack Sports Complex Saturday evening.
The Pride, who won their second consecutive game, improve to 2-2 on the season while the Firebirds of UDC, who dropped their second consecutive contest, fall to 1-3.
Nwaukoni, who celebrated his 21st birthday Saturday, was 5 for 7 from the field and tied for team-high honors with nine rebounds in 17 minutes of action. Joining him in double figures for Hofstra was sophomore Taran Buie and freshman Jimmy Hall with 12 points each and seniors Stevie Mejia and David Imes and sophomore Shaquille Stokes with 11. Sophomore Moussa Kone tied for team-high honors with nine rebounds for the Pride.
UDC senior D'Angelo Johnson led three Firebirds in double-figures with a game-high 20 points while junior Michael Terry tallied 13 points and classmate Quasim Jones added 10. Senior Dyrek Jones grabbed a game-high 13 rebounds.
The Pride jumped on the Firebirds early, scoring the first 11 points of the contest with two free throws by Stokes giving the Pride a 11-0 lead with 16:27 to play in the half. Stokes and Hall each had four points in the opening spurt. But UDC would go on a 7-2 run, behind five points from senior Keith Brooks, over the next 1:50 to close to 13-7 with 14:37 to play.
But Buie's three-pointers started and ended a 26-12 Hofstra run with the latter giving the Pride their biggest lead of the half at 39-19 lead with 5:19 to play. Buie tallied 12 points for the Pride in the first half. The Firebirds clawed back and went on a 14-4 run over the final five minutes to close to 43-33 at the intermission. Johnson tallied 14 points in the first half including 10 in the final four minutes. Hofstra dominated the boards in the first half, 26-14, shot 54% (19-35) from the field and tallied 20 points in the paint.
UDC came out in the second half and had Michael Terry sandwich baskets around two free throws from Ziad Ashwawy as part of a 6-2 run to open the period and close to 45-39 with 17:09 to play. But the Pride scored six unanswered points behind a basket by Mejia and two jumpers by Hall to open up a 51-39 advantage with 15:14 to play.
But the Firebirds kept hanging around and closed to within seven three times, the latest at 60-53 after a Terry lay-up with 8:11 to play. The Pride responded with a 14-6 run the rest of the way to post the 74-59 victory. Hofstra shot 49% (31-63) from the field and outrebounded the Firebirds, 49-33. UDC shot 34% (23-67) from the field in the contest.
The Pride will return to action on Sunday (Nov. 18) when they host the Thundering Herd of Marshall in day three of the 2K Sports Classic Benefiting Wounded Warrior Project at the Mack Sports Complex. Game time is 3 p.m. South Dakota State faces the University of the District of Columbia at 12:30 p.m.