MBB: Hofstra Battles Before Falling To Belmont In Title Game
Courtesy: Hofstra Athletic Communications
Uncasville, CT – Graduate guard/forward Zeke Upshaw had another strong game for the Hofstra Men’s Basketball team with 25 points, including six three-pointers, but it wasn’t enough as Belmont held off a late Pride run for an 85-75 victory over Hofstra on Sunday night at the Mohegan Sun Arena.
The loss drops the Pride’s record to 2-4 this season, while Belmont improves to 6-1. The game was the championship contest of the Springfield Bracket of the Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame Tipoff.
Upshaw also added seven rebounds and two assists, while playing all 40 minutes in the game.
Senior forward Stephen Nwaukoni was strong all night for the Pride as he posted his first double-double of the season with a career-high 16 points and added 10 rebounds. Craig Bradshaw led Belmont with 24 points and five assists, while JJ Mann added 22 points and five steals.
A frentic first half would see the two squads combine for 89 points as the Pride took a 46-43 lead into the halftime intermission. Hofstra was on fire from the field in the opening 20 minutes as the Pride hit on 58% (18-31) of their shots. Upshaw led all scorers with 14 first half points, while Nwaukoni was equally as impressive with 10 points and six rebounds.
Hofstra jumped out to an early 10-point lead, 12-2, less than five minutes into the contest as Upshaw, freshman guard Jamall Robinson and freshman guard Chris Jenkins all drained three-pointers during an 11-0 Pride run.
A three-pointer from Caleb Chowbay and a basket from Evan Bradds of Belmont later in the half would close the Bruins deficit to five, 34-29, marking the closest the game had been since Hofstra held an early 6-2 lead 3:01 into the game.
The Pride would stay in front the remainder of the opening stanza, pushing the lead back to eight on a pair of occasions, the last with 1:45 to play on a layup from Nwaukoni (46-38).
Belmont would close the first half scoring with five straight points as the teams headed into the break with the Pride leading by three, 46-43.
Hofstra would hold the lead in the opening minutes of the second stanza until Belmont began to mount its rally.
A three-pointer from Chowbay with 13:52 left in the second half would give the Bruins a 56-55 advantage, marking their first lead since an early 2-1 Belmont advantage. The Bruins added another three less than a minute later, also from Chowbay, to open up a 59-55 lead.
In all it was a 14-0 run to give the Bruins a 61-55 lead until a driving layup from Nesmith closed the gap to 61-57 with 11:17 left in regulation.
Upshaw would continue his hot hand in the second half as he drained another shot from beyond the arc with 10:31 left to get Hofstra within one, before Belmont answered with a three-pointer of their own.
The Bruins lead grew to as many as nine, 76-67, following two free throws from Bradds at the 5:50 mark and then Hofstra began close the gap once again.
An 8-0 Pride run would make the score 76-75 in favor of Belmont after a Robinson free throw as Nwaukoni had four important points during the spurt.
Down the stretch, Hofstra would have numerous chances to tie or take the lead, but the Pride missed four three-pointers in the final three minutes after closing to within one.
Sophomore forward Jordan Allen posted a season-high 11 points, along with five rebounds and three assists for Hofstra, while Robinson added 10 points.
After a stretch of four straight games away from Hempstead, Hofstra will finally return home to the Mack Sports Complex on Saturday, November 30 when it hosts Manhattan in its next contest. For ticket information call (516) HOF-TIXX or visit GoHofstra.com/tix.