Cancun, Mexico – As they did in Hofstra’s win over Kansas State the previous day, senior guard Nicole Capurso and junior forward Shante Evans shined as the duo led Hofstra to a tough 70-60 victory over Drake at the Cancun Challenge in Cancun, Mexico.
Evans led the way with 15 points and 10 rebounds for her second double-double of the season, while Capurso tied for game-high honors with 15 points and provided several clutch baskets throughout the contest.
The win completes a perfect 2-0 trip to Mexico for the Pride, which improved to 4-1 overall with its fourth straight victory. Drake falls to 1-4 with the loss.
Hofstra also got quality efforts out of sophomore forward Anma Onyeuku and freshman guard Andreana Thomas. Onyeuku contributed 10 points and six rebounds in 10 minutes of action, while Thomas added nine points and controlled the Hofstra offense in the absence of senior guard Candice Bellocchio. Thomas played 24 minutes in the contest as Bellocchio was on the court for just six minutes after getting injured early in the game.
Hofstra grinded out a six-point halftime lead as the Pride held the Bulldogs without a point from the 16:53 mark of the first half until Rachael Hackbarth hit one of two free throw with 6:54 left before intermission. The field goal drought for Drake would continue until the 5:58 mark when the Bulldogs cut the deficit to 19-13 after a three-pointer from Carly Grenfell.
Down 9-5 early on, Hofstra knotted the score at nine on a layup from Evans before a jumper from Onyeuku put the Pride back in front at 11-9 with 9:43 left in the opening stanza.
Hofstra would push its lead to as many as 10 points in the opening twenty minutes as Onyeuku hit a free throw with 7:17 on the clock to expand the lead to 19-9 in favor of the Pride.
A layup late in the half would give Hofstra an eight-point lead before Drake closed the scoring with 19 ticks left on the clock to account for the six-point Pride cushion.
Six minutes into the second half, Drake closed the gap to 40-35 after a jumper from Grenfell, but Hofstra once again had an answer for the Bulldogs.
Evans would start a 19-5 run for Hofstra that consumed nearly six minutes of game action as the Pride extended the lead to 59-40 with 8:16 left in regulation. The margin was the largest of the game for Hofstra, which would end up needing the large lead as Drake closed to within five points late in the contest.
Hofstra was clutch down the stretch, though, as Thomas and senior center Marie Malone combined to go 5-6 from the free throw line in the final minute to seal the win for the Pride.
Malone was stellar all-around for Hofstra in the game as she had five points, seven rebounds and a career-high five blocked shots.
Hackbarth had 12 points and eight rebounds for Drake, while Grenfell finished with 14 points. Stephanie Running added 10 points and five rebounds for the Bulldogs.
Hofstra returns to the United States to continue its 2011-12 campaign as the Pride will host Big East member Seton Hall on Thursday at 7 p.m. in the Mack Sports Complex. It will be the Pride’s second game this season against a member of the Big East as Hofstra defeated St. John’s, 93-82, back on November 18. Hofstra has four of its last five games against schools from the Big East.
Following the game against the Pirates Hofstra will open Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) play on Sunday, December 4 at Georgia State (2 p.m. tip).