Boca Raton, FL – Senior guard Stevie Mejia had a solid all-around game for Hofstra as he posted 13 points, along with seven rebounds, three assists and three steals, but Florida Atlantic used a late run to earn a close 61-57 victory over the Pride on Tuesday afternoon at FAU Arena.
The loss drops Hofstra’s record to 3-10 this season and concludes the non-conference portion of the Pride’s schedule. It marked Hofstra’s eighth straight loss. Florida Atlantic improved to 7-8 with the victory.
Hofstra was playing its first New Year’s Day game since facing Maine on the first of January back in 1995.
Mejia’s point, rebound, assist and steal totals all led the team and he also played a team-best 35 minutes in the game. Sophomore guard Taran Buie tied Mejia for team-high honors with 13 points, while adding six rebounds.
Hofstra would take a 36-29 lead into the half as the Pride used an 11-0 run during the opening stanza to take a 32-22 advantage. Mejia had nine points, three rebounds and two assists in the first 20 minutes as he controlled the action for Hofstra.
Trailing 22-21 following a layup from Jordan McCoy of FAU with 9:54 left in the half, Mejia kick-started the run before Hofstra got contributions from junior forward Stephen Nwaukoni, redshirt freshman forward Jordan Allen and senior forward David Imes as well before Mejia punctuated the run with a jumper at the 5:30 mark of the opening stanza. The Pride held the Owls scoreless for a period of 4:24 en route to the 10-point lead.
Florida Atlantic closed the gap to five on a pair of occasions later in the half before a basket from sophomore forward Moussa Kone with 31 seconds left accounted for the final scoring in the half and allowed the Pride to take the seven-point lead into the break. Allen was very active for Hofstra in the first 20 minutes, chipping in with seven points and three rebounds.
The Owls would get right back in the game to start the second half as FAU scored the first eight points of the stanza to lead 37-36 before Allen got the Pride on the board with an emphatic fast-break dunk with 16:28 showing on the clock.
A three-pointer from Stefan Moody of Florida Atlantic gave the Owls back a 40-38 lead before Hofstra used a 13-2 run to earn a 51-42 lead. The run saw Buie hit his first three-pointer of the contest.
Florida Atlantic would gradually chip away at the deficit and used a 15-4 run to take a 57-55 lead following a three-pointer from Gantt with 4:31 left in regulation.
After both teams would be held scoreless for the next three-plus minutes, Mejia finally knotted the score at 57 with 1:09 remaining when he nailed a jumper.
The tie score would be short-lived, though, as McCoy drained a pair of free throws with 36 seconds left to put the Owls ahead by two. That would prove to be the difference in the game as FAU added two more free throws late to clinch the victory as a potential game-tying three-point attempt from Buie with seven seconds left was off the mark.
Greg Gantt led all scorers with 24 points for Florida Atlantic, while Moody added 16 points and seven rebounds. McCoy chipped in with eight points and eight rebounds.
Hofstra is next in action when it opens Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) play on Monday, January 7 with a home game against Georgia State at 7 p.m. For ticket information please call (516) HOF-TIXX.