MBB: Robinson, Upshaw Lead Pride In Regular Season Finale
Courtesy: Hofstra Athletic Communications
Hempstead, NY - Freshman forward Jamall Robinson scored a career-high 22 points and graduate guard Zeke Upshaw poured in 18 points to lead Hofstra to an 82-71 victory over James Madison on senior night at the Mack Sports Complex Saturday.
The win snapped a five game losing streak for the Pride and avenged an earlier season loss to the Dukes. The victory also sends the Pride to the Colonial Athletic Association Championship next week on a winning note. Hofstra will be the No. 8 seed and take on ninth-seeded UNCW in the opening round March 7 at 7 p.m.
Hofstra ends the regular season with a 9-22 record and a 5-11 mark in the CAA. James Madison finishes 11-19 overall and 6-10 in league action.
The Pride and Dukes traded leads five times in the opening nine minutes of the second half. The Pride went up by as many as six on a layup from junior forward Moussa Kone with 15:03 remaining to cap a 7-1 run. Hofstra took the lead for good, 57-56, with 10:50 remaining on a dunk from sophomore forward Darren Payen. Graduate guard Dion Nesmith pushed the lead to four with a three-pointer 40 second later. The Dukes would cut the lead to one, 62-61, on a three-pointer from Ron Curry with 8:45 to go before the Pride responded with a 7-1 run to take their largest lead of the game, 69-62, with 5:17 to play on a pair of free throws from Nesmith.
The Dukes would cut the lead to four, 70-66, on a pair of free throws from Charles Cooke with 3:04 to play, but Hofstra used a 6-0 run to go back up by 10 with 52 seconds to play. Nesmith, Robinson and Kone each had two points in the run. An Andrey Semenov three would cut the JMU deficit to seven with 39 seconds left. But Robinson hit four free throws down the stretch and the Dukes would miss a three-pointer and turn the ball over on their final two possessions.
James Madison led 41-39 at the half following a back-and-forth opening 20 minutes. The first half featured five tie scored and five lead changes and neither team led by more than six points.
The pride jumped out to a 5-0 lead in the first 1:11 following a jumper from Upshaw and a three-pointer from Nesmith. The Pride would again hold a five point lead, 11-6, with 15:35 remaining following another jumper from Upshaw before a 9-0 run by the Dukes gave them a 15-11 lead with 13:28 to go on a three-pointer from Cooke.
After Upshaw cut the deficit to one with a three-pointer of his own, the Dukes responded with five straight points from Semenov to take their largest lead of the half at 20-14 with 11:55 to play. Hofstra would cut the lead to one on two occasions before tying the score at 26 on Robinson’s jumper with 6:16 on the clock. With the score tied at 28, the Dukes used a 7-1 run to take a 35-29 lead with 4:00 minutes to go on Ivan Lukic’s free throws.
The Pride would rally with an 8-0 run to take a 37-35 lead on Upshaw’s jumper with 2:14 to play in the half. After two more ties, the Pride would take a 39-38 lead with 32 seconds on a pair of free throws from senior Stephen Nwaukoni. But Cooke hit a three-pointer with four second left to send the Dukes into intermission with the one-point lead.
Nesmith finished with 12 points and five assists to complete the trio of Pride players with double-digit scoring. Nwaukoni had nine points and 13 rebounds in his final game at the Mack Sports Complex. Prior to the game, Hofstra honored Nwaukoni, Upshaw and forward Dan Steinberg as the trio played their final home contest.
Robinson bested his previous high of 16 points and became just the third Pride player this season to score 20 or more points in a game, joining Upshaw (16 times) and Nesmith (five times). Hofstra shot 47.4 percent from the floor in the contest, its fifth-best shooting night of the season.
Semenov led four James Madison players in double figures with 17 points. Curry and Cooke each had 15 points, while Jackson Kent added 10 points. Taylor Bessick led the Dukes with seven rebounds.