Hempstead, N.Y. - Junior forward Stephen Nwaukoni notched his second double-double of the season and Hofstra built a double-digit second half lead, but Northeastern posted a comeback late as the Pride fell to the first-place Huskies, 62-57, in a Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) matchup on Wednesday night at the Mack Sports Complex.
Nwaukoni registered the fourth double-double of his career with 11 points and 13 rebounds and senior Stevie Mejia added 10 points and three assists, though Hofstra lost its seventh straight in dropping to 5-18 and 2-8 in league play.
Joel Smith scored a game-high 19 points and Quincy Ford contributed 15 points to help Northeastern improve its record to 15-8 and 10-1 against the CAA.
Nwaukoni's double-double was his first since a 12-point, 11-rebound effort versus Wright State on Dec. 15. Sophomore Taran Buie scored 10 points, marking the 17th time he's scored in double figures in Hofstra's 23 games.
Hofstra built a 10-point lead midway through the second half but couldn't stave off a Northeastern attack that featured a trio of three-pointers from Smith, which all came from the right wing.
The Pride built the momentum in the first half of the second half. Mejia hit back-to-back three-pointers for a 36-31 advantage for Hofstra. Junior Daquan Brown, who added six points off the bench for Hofstra, made a layup and stole the ball at the opposite free throw line and went coast-to-coast for the layup for a 40-32 Pride lead with 11:17 left.
Smith hit two three-pointers in a 21-second span to tie the score at 46 with almost six minutes left. The second three-ball initiated an 8-0 run, giving Northeastern the lead for good. Ford drew a foul on sophomore Moussa Kone and made two free throws for a 48-46 advantage, giving Northeastern the irrevocable lead.
Smith made another three pointer for 51-46 lead off a second chance. Mejia gave Hofstra a chance for a comeback, connecting on a reverse layup on a baseline drive to cut it to 56-52 with 1:49 left. Hofstra got two defensive stops and David Imes and Kone both made one of two free-throws, putting Hofstra within 58-57 with less than 15 seconds left.
Ford took the in-bounds pass and was fouled, making both subsequent free throws. Ford then made the game-sealing defensive play when he blocked Buie's final three-point attempt was blocked coming out of the hand with 11 seconds left.
A low-scoring first half featured staunch defense as the Pride held the Huskies to 2-for-15 three-point shooting. Nwaukoni and Buie combined for 16 of Hofstra's total points as the Pride built a 24-19 lead at the break.
Northeastern surged to a 6-0 run over a five-minute stretch and went up as much as eight points before the Pride posted a 12-2 run over 5:35 with almost four minutes left in the half. The Pride's defensive effort marked the fourth time the team has held opponent to less than 20 points in the opening half and the first since limiting UNC Wilmington to 17 points in the first half on Jan. 26.
Hofstra will now embark on a two-game road swing starting Saturday at UNC Wilmington at noon. The game will be televised on MSG Network.