Louisville, KY – Russ Smith scored a game-high 30 points to offset several outstanding efforts from the Pride as the Hofstra Men’s Basketball team dropped a 97-69 decision to defending National Champion and No. 3 Louisville on Tuesday evening at the KFC Yum! Center.
Leading the way for Hofstra was graduate guard Dion Nesmith with 24 points and six assists and graduate guard/forward Zeke Upshaw with 17 points. Freshman guard/forward Jamall Robinson chipped in with 11. The 24 points marked a new career-high for Nesmith.
Hofstra had a great night from beyond that arc as they drained 14 of 25 shots from beyond the arc, including five from Nesmith and three from Upshaw, Robinson and freshman guard Chris Jenkins. Hofstra fell one three-pointer shy of the school record of 15 set against Towson in 2005-06 and against James Madison in 2006-07.
Hofstra fell to 1-2 with the loss, while Louisville improved to 2-0 with its second straight win over a Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) school as the Cardinals opened the season with a win over Charleston on Saturday. It marked Hofstra’s first game against a ranked opponent since facing No. 8 North Carolina on November 18, 2010. It was also the Pride’s second-ever match-up with Louisville as the squads met during the 1997-98 season with UL earning a narrow 75-66 victory at the Puerto Rico Shootout.
The game was the first of four for Hofstra that are part of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame Tipoff.
Hofstra would go into the halftime break trailing the Cardinals, 46-31, despite 14 first half points from Upshaw.
The Pride got on the board first in the contest as junior forward/center Moussa Kone drained a jumper 12 seconds into the game before Louisville scored 11 straight points to open up an 11-2 advantage following a layup from Chris Jones. Three-pointers from Jenkins and Upshaw sandwiched around a three-pointer from UL’s Smith would close the gap to six, 14-8, with 14:58 left before the intermission.
Louisville would gradually expand on its advantage and take its largest lead of the opening stanza at 35-14 with 7:18 to play following another Smith basket.
Hofstra would chip away at the deficit heading into the halftime break as they outscored Louisville, 6-2, over the final two minutes of the first stanza to narrow the gap to 15.
It was the Smith and Upshaw show in the first 20 minutes as Upshaw added four rebounds to his 14 points in the first stanza, while Smith poured in 21 points in the first half.
Hofstra would start the second half on fire from long range as Robinson drained three three-pointers and Nesmith added another as the Pride outscored the Cardinals, 12-4, over the first 1:41 of the half to close the gap to 50-43 and forced UL into calling a timeout.
With Hofstra down just 54-49 following a layup from sophomore forward Jordan Allen with 15:35 left in regulation, the Pride run in total would be 18-8 over the first four-plus minutes of the second half.
Louisville would end the run as they scored 12 straight points over the next 3:38 to open up a 66-49 lead heading into the under 12-minute media timeout with 11:57 showing on the court.
The Cardinals would add to the run after the break, scoring five more to push the lead to 71-49 before a Kone basket ended the run at 17 straight Louisville points.
Hofstra would be unable to cut into the deficit as the game progressed as Louisville went on to capture the second-ever meeting between the schools.
Hofstra returns to action next Tuesday, November 19 when it travels to Richmond for a 7 p.m. contest. That will be the second of four games as part of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame Tipoff. The final two games are at Mohegan Sun Arena in Connecticut on November 23 and 24 when Hofstra faces Hartford and then either Belmont or Holy Cross.