West Hartford, CT – Junior forward Shante Evans had 16 points and seven rebounds for Hofstra, but Ruthanne Doherty led Hartford with 18 points and seven rebounds as the Hawks narrowly defeated the Pride, 61-59, at Chase Family Arena on Wednesday evening.
The loss ends Hofstra’s six-game win streak as the Pride fall to 6-2 this season. Hartford improved to 6-3 with the victory. The Hawks are the fourth team on the Pride’s schedule this season that qualified for the NCAA Tournament last season and Hofstra is now 2-2 in those contests.
Senior guard Candice Bellocchio had nine points and seven rebounds in the 110th game of her career, tying her for eighth all-time in program history.
After a slow start saw Hofstra fall behind 8-6 just over six minutes into the game, the Pride used an 18-0 scoring run to take control and lead 24-8 following a basket from Bellocchio at the 8:32 mark. Evans had seven points during the run, which was kick-started by a three-point play from Evans.
The Pride would take a 31-26 lead into the break as Hartford outscored Hofstra, 15-5, over the final seven minutes of the stanza.
Harford would score the first four points of the second half to close to within one at 31-30, before a basket by senior guard Nicole Capurso and a breakaway layup from sophomore guard Katelyn Loper pushed the Hofstra advantage back up to five, 35-30, with 17:06 to play in regulation.
The Hawks would continue to stay within striking distance and trailed just 46-44 after a Nikkia Smith bucket with 9:37 left on the clock.
Two free throws from Smith with 7:27 remaining in the second half would knot the score at 48, marking the first time the score had been tied since it was 4-4 early in the contest. A long two-point basket from Milana Gilbert with 6:56 left would put the Hawks back in the lead, their first advantage since leading 8-6 at the 16:39 mark of the first stanza.
Hartford was able to retake the lead in the game as they held Hofstra without a field goal from the 11:20 mark of the second half until junior forward Candace Bond drained a free throw line jumper with 4:57 to play. The Bond basket, off an assist from Bellocchio, would allow Hofstra to cut the deficit to 56-50.
Hofstra would gradually close the gap down the stretch and eventually retake the lead, courtesy of a Bond layup, with 1:37 to play that made the score 57-56.
The two squads would trade baskets before Smith scored the eventual game-winner with 26 seconds left. Hofstra had chances in the closing seconds, but a pair of turnovers doomed the Pride and Daphne Elliott sealed the win for the Hawks with a free throw with seven seconds left.
Bond finished with 12 points and four rebounds for Hofstra, while Capurso added 10.
Elliott added 11 points, nine rebounds, five assists and four steals for Hartford.
Hofstra returns to action following the break for finals when it travels to Saint Peter’s for a 2 p.m. game on December 18.