Hempstead, NY - Hofstra senior guard Nicole Capurso scored a career-high 24 points, but Princeton placed five players in double-figures to lead the Tigers to a 74-69 victory over the Pride Thursday night at the Mack Sports Complex.
The game was a matchup between two of the top mid-major programs in the nation as Hofstra (9-3) is eighth in the ESPN poll and 12th in the Collegeinsder.com poll. Princeton (9-4) is 10th in the ESPN rankings and ranked seventh by Collegeinsider.com. The loss snapped a three-game winning streak for the Pride and also ended a six-game home court winning streak that dated back to last season.
Lauren Edwards lead the Tigers with 17 points, while Niveen Rasheed added 14 points and six steals. Devona Allgood, Nicole Hung and Megan Bowen each had 10 points to complete the double-figure scorers for the Tigers.
Hofstra junior All-American forward Shante Evans had 14 points, all in the second half, and a game-high 13 rebounds for her sixth double-double of the season. Sophomore guard Katelyn Loper and senior center Marie Malone also scored in double-digits for the Pride with 10 points each. Capurso, who eclipsed her previous career-best of 23 points, shot 7-13 from the floor and was 5-10 from three-point range. Senior point guard Candice Bellocchio dished out a season-high 13 assists, one shy of her own school record. Junior forward Candace Bond was stellar defensively for Hofstra once again, as she had a career-high nine steals for the Pride.
Princeton led by nine at the half, 37-28, and took control of the game with an 11-0 run early in the second half to take a 50-36 lead with 14:06 on the clock. Hofstra had opened the half on an 8-2 run to trail 39-36 on Capurso's three-pointer at the 17:15 mark.
The Pride again cut the lead to 57-53, but Princeton retaliated with a 7-0 run to take a 64-53 lead on a fast break layup by Niveen Rasheed at the 7:56 mark. Back-to-back three-pointers by Loper made it a six-point game, 67-61, with 4:17 to go. After Princeton went back up by 10, 71-61, the Pride used a 6-0 run to cut the Tiger lead to four, 71-67, with 2:07 to play on a pair of Bond free throws. After a free throw from Loper made it a three-point game, Kate Miller put Princeton back up by five, 73-68, with two free throws with 18 seconds left. The teams traded free throws in the final 10 seconds to account for the final score.
Hofstra was also hurt by 27 turnovers, which led to 28 Princeton points. The Tigers also took advantage of scoring in the paint, holding a 34-22 edge including a 20-4 advantage in the first half when Hofstra played without Evans, who sat for 13 minutes due to two early fouls.
The first half started slow as both teams struggled to find an offensive rhythm. The teams opened up a combined 3-23 from the field in the first six minutes, with the Tigers holding an 8-3 advantage at the 14 minute mark. Princeton used an 11-2 run over a span of 4:10 to take a 14-5 advantage at the 11:31 mark. Miller had three points during the run.
But the Pride responded with an 11-1 run to take a 19-17 lead at the 7:18 mark on a Capurso three-pointer. The senior guard scored five points in the spurt. After the Tigers tied the score at 19 on Bowen's jumper at the 7:02 mark, Princeton would close the half on an 18-9 run to take a 37-28 lead at the half. Rasheed paced the Tigers with seven points in the run, while Hung added six points.
The Tigers rebounded from a 2-11 start from the field to finish the half a respectable 14-30 (46.7 percent), while Hofstra shot 10-31 from the floor (32.3 percent). Capurso single-handedly kept Hofstra in the contest as she poured in 16 points on 6-9 shooting (4-6 from three-point range). Edwards had nine points to lead Princeton, while Hung and Rasheed added eight points apiece in the opening 20 minutes.
Hofstra will take a break to ring in the New Year before returning to action next Thursday, January 5, when it hosts Drexel in a Colonial Athletic Association contest at 7 p.m.