Hempstead, NY - Hofstra junior forward Shante Evans tied the score at 68 with 32 seconds left and then converted an old-fashioned three-point play with 12 seconds to go to give Hofstra a 71-68 lead en route to a 71-69 win over Marist in the championship game of the New York Life Holiday Invitational Thursday afternoon at the Mack Sports Complex. The Pride improves to 9-2 with its third straight win, while Marist falls to 5-5.
Marist hit a free throw with four seconds remaining and then had the potential game-tying basket at the buzzer waved off after a video review by the officials.
The contest pitted two of the top mid-major programs in the nation as well as two of the top programs in the metropolitan New York area, as Hofstra is ranked 14th in the Collegeinsider.com Women's Mid-Major Poll and Maris is ranked 22nd. The two teams are also third and eighth, respectively, in the Metro Area Poll conducted by Newsday. The win by the Pride was also their 14th consecutive over teams from the state of New York.
Evans finished with her fifth double-double of the season and 36th of her career with a game-high 29 points and 18 rebounds, including a career-high tying 13 offensive boards. She also moved into 13th place on Hofstra's all-time scoring list with 1,208 points. Junior forward Candace Bond chipped in with 15 points and a career-best 14 rebounds. Sophomore guard Katelyn Loper finished with 14 points.
The Pride posted a huge advantage on the glass, grabbing a season-high 60 rebounds compared to 38 for the Red Foxes. Hofstra had 28 offensive rebounds in the game.
Hofstra used a 12-0 run in the second half to take a 49-36 lead with 15:56 to go. Marist's Kelsey Beynnon had cut the Hofstra lead to one, 37-36, 48 seconds into the half before senior guard Nicole Capurso ignited the Pride run with a three-pointer. Loper, who earlier in the game became the 10th Hofstra player to record 100 career three-pointers, tallied five points in the run, while Evans had four points.
But Marist chipped away and cut the Pride lead to one, 57-56, on a Natalie Gomez jumper with 8:51 on the clock. The Red Foxes would later tie the score at 64 with 3:17 to play on a layup by Corielle Yard. Marist would take leads of 66-64 and 68-66 in the final two minutes, but Evans answered for Hofstra both times. She would tie the score at 66 with two free throws with 1:46 remaining and then knot it up at 68 with 32 ticks left with a layup off a brilliant feed from freshman guard Andreana Thomas. She then grabbed an offensive rebound, scored and was fouled with 12 seconds left to put the Pride up, 71-68.
Marist pushed the ball up court and Leanne Ockenden was fouled with four second left. She made the first to make the score 71-69 and missed the second intentionally. Evans grabbed the rebound but fell to the ground and was called for a travel, giving Marist one chance with two seconds left. Yard missed a jumper, but Casey Dulin grabbed the offensive board. Her last second shot went in, but was ruled after the buzzer by the officials after a replay review.
The Pride trailed 6-0 in the opening minutes, but went on a 27-11 run to take their largest lead of the half (10 points), 27-17, at the 8:10 mark on a jumper by Evans. The junior All-American had 10 points in the run. But the Red Foxes made a run of their own to close the half, scoring 15 of the final 23 points in the half to go into the half trailing by three, 35-32. Marist had cut its deficit to two points, 31-29, at the 4:00 mark on a pair of free throws from Dulin.
Hofstra controlled the boards in the opening 20 minutes with a 37-18 edge in rebounding. Evans had 12 rebounds in the opening half, including 11 offensive boards, and added 14 points as well. Bond added 11 points in the first half as well. Brandy Gang had 11 first-half points for the Red Foxes.
Yard and Dulin led the Red Foxes in scoring with 14 points each, while Ockenden added 13 points. Yard also added seven rebounds.
Loper and Evans were named to the New York Life Holiday Invitational All-Tournament Team for the Pride with Evans taking home Most Valuable Player accolades. Yard made the team from Marist, while Blanche Alverson was selected from Auburn and Jaclyn Babe from Central Connecticut.
The tournament victory was Hofstra's first since 2001-02 when the Pride won the St. John's Thanksgiving Classic with wins over the Red Storm and San Diego.
The Pride return to action next Thursday, December 29 at 4 p.m. in another matchup of top metropolitan area teams as they host Princeton.