WASHINGTON, D.C.– Hofstra men’s basketball Head Coach Joe Mihalich was screaming over the overwhelming number of Delaware fans late in the second half as his team struggled to move the ball against the Blue Hens’ stout full court press.
Despite Delaware scoring on eight straight baskets in the final six minutes, the Pride was able to hold on and win 75-61 in the Colonial Athletic Association semifinals at the Entertainment and Sports Arena on Monday night.
The veteran guard play for Hofstra was key as they outlasted Delaware’s late push in the second half. Led by senior guard Eli Pemberton, the Pride shot an impressive 52% from behind the arc. Pemberton scored a game-high 24 points and shot 5-8 from three.
“That’s just how we play the game,” Pemberton said. “If you let us shoot, it’s going to get dangerous out there.”
Hofstra junior guard Jalen Ray added 19 points while shooting a perfect 4-4 from deep.
Delaware guard Nate Darling finished with 13 points and eight rebounds. Guard Ryan Allen, who played alongside Darling at DeMatha Catholic High School, chipped in 11 points.
Mihalich credited his veteran guards for solving Delaware’s press defense.
Hofstra and Delaware met in the semi-finals of the conference championship last year, which saw the Pride prevailing in overtime.
Despite a 14-point win, the game was hard fought and Delaware didn’t make anything easy.
“We’re proud of what we’re building, nobody gave us a path to the finals,” Mihalich said.
The Pride swept Northeastern during the regular season. The matchups were never easy for Hofstra, winning both matchups by a combined six points.
“Whatever we did to beat them, we’re going to have to come up with some new ideas,” Mihalich said. “It’s going to be a war.”
The Pride will take on Northeastern in the CAA title game on Tuesday evening. Hofstra lost in the conference championship game last year to Northeastern, 82-74. This will be Hofstra’s second straight year in the championship and fourth overall appearance since joining the league in 2001-02.