Richmond, Va. -- Senior forward Nathaniel Lester scored 12 points and grabbed eight rebounds and the Pride stayed within striking distance throughout most of the second half, but lost to Virginia Commonwealth University, 61-49, in a Colonial Athletic Association matchup on Monday night at the Siegel Center


Senior guard Mike Moore tallied 17 points, though the Pride dropped to 7-14 overall and 1-8 in CAA play.  Bradford Burgess (14), Troy Daniels ( 12 ), Darius Theus (10) and Juvonte Reddic (10) all scored in double figures to help the Rams improve to 16-5 and 7-2. VCU has won eight straight games in the series and swept the home-and-home matchup this season after defeating Hofstra on Long Island on Jan. 2.

Lester scored in double figures for the 13th straight game, marking the CAA’s longest streak this season. The upperclassman went 3-of-8 from the floor yet was strong from the line, finishing 5-of-6.

The Rams finished 7-of-18 from three-point range, including four three-pointers by Daniels. Hofstra went 2-of-9 from beyond the arc.

“Their half-court pressure didn’t allow us to execute on offense,” Hofstra head coach Mo Cassara said. “They cover so much ground. I give a lot of credit to VCU.”

After going down by double digits in the first half, Hofstra closed to within two early in the second half on Lester’s two free throws just 31 seconds in to make it 35-33. But VCU then used long-range shooting to create breathing room, exemplified by Theus’ three-pointer near the top of the key put VCU up 41-33.

Hofstra would get as close as 44-37 on two Lester free throws before VCU opened the gap to  50-39 on Theus’ layup off a fast break. The Pride struggled to break the Rams full-court press at times as the Rams scored 15 points off turnovers.

“In the first half, we were right there,” Cassara said. “We just ran out of gas a little bit and their pressure wore us down.”

VCU sealed the win when freshman forward Moussa Kone came over late and caught Theus on the body when the Rams guard was making a layup off the glass. Theus hit the free throw to complete the three-point lead and a 55-43 edge with just less than seven minutes left to secure the win.

The game also featured the CAA’s top-two leaders in assists as senior Dwan McMillan and VCU’s Darius Theus entered tied with the most assists in the league and assist-per-game average at 4.5. The guards lived up to their history as McMillan racked up four assists and Theus compiled six helpers.

Hofstra battled back after going down as much as 10 and Moore gave the Pride a lift heading into the locker room with a right-wing three-pointer from NBA range. Moore’s bank shot right before the buzzer cut VCU’s halftime lead to 35-32 heading into the break.

VCU utilized zone-pressure defense to force 11 first-half turnovers to go up 27-17 through the first 12:30. The Rams went on an 8-0 run capped by Treveon Graham’s three-pointer. Yet Moore scored 11 first-half points and Lester tallied seven points and seven rebounds to help the Pride close within one possession at the break.      

Cassara used the same starting lineup for the 10th straight game with McMillan and Moore at guard and Lester, Imes and sophomore Stephen Nwaukoni at forward.

Hofstra will cap a four-games-in-eight day stretch with a home contest against George Mason on Wednesday at 7 p.m. from the Mack Sports Complex. That contest will mark the third time in the last five games the Pride will oppose a team that qualified for last season’s NCAA Tournament after facing Old Dominion University and VCU on the road.