Newark, DE. - Hofstra erased a 15-point Delaware lead and had a chance to tie it in the final moments but couldn't convert a final free throw with 2.1 seconds left as the Pride fell, 67-66, to the Blue Hens in a Colonial Athletic Association matchup at the Bob Carpenter Center on Wednesday night.
Senior guard Mike Moore paced Hofstra's offensive attack with 24 points but the Pride lost its second straight in dropping to 6-9 overall and 0-3 in CAA play. Delaware's Jamelle Hagins scored 21 points and grabbed 18 rebounds to lift the Blue Hens to 6-7 and 2-1.
"In the second half, we showed some real resiliency," Hofstra head coach Mo Cassara said. "We turned the ball over early on and they came out blazing. We just have to go and regroup, shake it off and get ready to play UNC Wilmington."
Hofstra, which trailed by as much as 10 points in the second half, had the chance to send it into overtime after sophomore guard Shemiye McLendon gave Hofstra third opportunity to tie it in the final five seconds. McLendon grabbed the loose ball after Hagins blocked David Imes' layup attempt and drew a foul on Hagins.
McLendon hit his first free throw before his second attempt hit the back iron and bounced out. Hagins then grabbed the rebound to secure the win for Delaware.
Senior forward Nathaniel Lester scored 15 points, including 11 in the second half, and 11 rebounds for his second double-double this season and eighth of his career. Devon Saddler scored 14 points and Kyle Anderson scored 17 for Delaware.
A frantic finish capped a wild comeback attempt for the Pride as Hofstra saw its six-game winning streak in the series snapped. Hagins swatted Moore's shot out of bounds and then blocked junior forward David Imes' shot on the low left-block on the ensuing in-bounds play. Hagins went for a third block but was called for fouling McLendon, setting up the dramatic final free throws.
McLendon, who finished with 11 points off the bench, helped put Hofstra back in the game, attributing for all but three points from Hofstra's reserves. Sophomore guard Stephen Nwaukoni also made the most of his fourth straight start, posting a season-high 12 rebounds.
After trailing by as much as 12 in the second half, Lester pulled Hofstra even for the first time in the game with a jumper to knot the score at 58 with five minutes remaining. The Pride shrugged off another deficit, tying the score again when Moore connected on a second-chance three-pointer from the left-wing with 1:39 left to tie the score at 63.
On the next trip down the court, Josh Brinkley posted his first field goal of the half on an offensive put-back. Moore then hit a long jumper with 1:08 left, appearing to be a three-pointer. But after a video replay, the officials ruled Moore's foot was on the line as the game was tied at 65.
Hofstra generated a defensive stop on Saddler's missed three-pointer and Cassara called timeout with 35.9 seconds left. The Pride drew a foul on Khalid Lewis with 22 seconds left, though Moore missed both free throws and Nwaukoni was called for the foul going for a rebound with 20.8 seconds left. Hagins then hit both free throws, proving to be the difference.
The game featured a matchup of the top-two scorers in the CAA in Moore (20.9 PPG) and Saddler (20.2 PGG). The duo didn't disappoint, as Moore hit a trio of three-pointers and Saddler went 5-of-12 from the field. But Hagins had 15 of his 18 rebounds on the defensive end and helped Delaware finish with a 38-16 edge of points in the paint.
Hagins and Saddler each scored in double figures in the opening half, lifting Delaware to a 39-29 break at intermission. Delaware scored the game's first six points and raced to a 17-4 lead just six minutes in when Saddler hit a left-wing three-pointer to make it 17-4, prompting Hofstra to call its first timeout.
Delaware went up by as much as 15 as Hagins scored 13 points and corralled eight rebounds before the break while Saddler scored 11, including a put-back right before time expired to make it a 10-point edge at the half.
Anderson also scored nine points in the first half and Hagins produced the highlight of the first half with a two-handed reserve dunk as part of a three-point play and a 30-19 lead, though McLendon gave Hofstra a boost with five points off the bench as Hofstra moved as close as 32-27 after Moore drilled a set shot and a three-pointer in a 30-second span. Moore finished with 10 first-half points, notching double figures for the 14th time in 15 games this season.
Delaware will make a return trip to Hofstra on Feb. 14. The Blue Hens have not won in Hempstead, N.Y. since the 2000-01 season when both teams played in the America East.
Following a quick break, Hofstra will head south to face UNC Wilmington on Saturday at 7 p.m. The Pride trails the all-time series, 12-10, but has won the last seven games, including a 71-64 victory in the penultimate game of last year's regular season.