Newark, DE – Sophomore forward/guard Jordan Allen scored a career-high 18 points and graduate forward Zeke Upshaw led Hofstra with 19 points, but it was not enough as Delaware held off a late Pride run and defeated Hofstra, 86-79, on Wednesday evening at the Bob Carpenter Center. The game was the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) opener for both squads.
Hofstra falls to 4-11 overall and 0-1 in CAA play with the loss, while Delaware improved to 9-7 and 1-0 in conference action.
Devon Saddler led Delaware with 24 points, while Jarvis Threatt added 20 points and seven rebounds.
Hofstra would take a five-point lead (41-36) lead into the halftime break, marking the 11th time this season that the Pride has led a game after 20 minutes.
Allen was the key player for the Pride in the opening stanza as he scored 12 points to lead all scorers in the first half. The 12 points were already one shy of his career-high of 13 set against Wright State on December 15, 2012.
After a tight early part of the game, Hofstra would open up a 24-11 lead as the Pride used a 13-0 scoring run that culminated with a three-pointer from graduate guard Dion Nesmith at the 12:09 mark of the first half. Allen and Nesmith each scored four points during the Hofstra run.
Delaware rallied and closed the gap to 27-23 after a 12-3 run. Free throws would keep Hofstra in front in the first half as the Pride hit nine of them, which helped the visitors overcome a field goal drought of nearly five minutes as freshman guard Chris Jenkins hit a three with 6:10 on the clock and the Pride’s next field goal came courtesy of a Nesmith layup with 1:33 left in the half.
The Pride made the most of their second chance opportunities in the first half as Hofstra outscored the Blue Hens, 15-0, in that category in the opening 20 minutes and held a 28-13 rebounding advantage before the intermission.
Delaware came out of the second half gates on fire as they opened the second half on a 10-2 run over the first 3:27 to take their first lead since the score was 7-4 with 18:04 left in the first half. The run finished with an old-fashioned three-point play from Threatt.
Upshaw, who was held to just five points in the opening half, hit two free throws with 15:51 left in regulation to end the Blue Hen run.
Hofstra was not to be outdone, though, as the Pride responded with a 10-2 run of their own to retake the lead at 57-54 heading into the under 12-media timeout (11:31). Nesmith and Upshaw both drained three-pointers during the run to power the Pride.
A quick 4-0 run, including a dunk from Threatt, would put Delaware back in front at 62-59 and force Hofstra to call a timeout with 9:24 left in the second half.
A three-pointer from Saddler from the corner with 8:18 to go in the second half would put Delaware ahead, 65-59, marking the Blue Hens largest lead of the game to that point.
Delaware would continually hold Hofstra at bay as the second half winded down, including pushing the lead to 75-65 after another Saddler three-pointer.
A personal 5-0 scoring run from Upshaw closed the gap to 75-70, but the Pride would get no closer than four the rest of the way as Delaware held on for a narrow seven-point victory.
Senior forward/center Stephen Nwaukoni had eight points and a game-high 11 rebounds for Hofstra, while Nesmith finished with 18 points, four rebounds and three assists.
Davon Usher and Kyle Anderson were also in double figures for the Blue Hens with 19 and 12 points, respectively.
Hofstra has opened the 2014 calendar year with three straight road games but will finally return home to the Mack Sports Complex on Sunday when it hosts Charleston at 4 p.m. The game will mark the Cougars first road contest as a member of the CAA as they opened conference play with a home victory over James Madison.