Hofstra Runs Wild In Blowout Over Drexel

Hofstra jumped out to an early 14-2 lead and never looked back, going wire to wire in a dominating 86-58 win over Drexel Wednesday evening at the Mack Sports Complex in Hempstead, NY.

Juan'ya Green
Juan’ya Green did it all for the Pride Wednesday night. Joe Mihalich’s “elite passer” earned a double-double on 11 points and 11 assists against Drexel

Hofstra finally showed what it looks like firing on all cylinders. After dropping a pair of CAA games at Northeastern and home against UNCW, the Pride let the rest of the conference hear them roar.

Juan’ya Green and Malik Nichols both walked away with double-doubles, Green on 11 points and 11 assists, and Nichols on 10 points and 10 rebounds. For Green, it was his sixth double-double of the year and his fourth of the point/assist variety. Green’s game also represented the first time in nearly eight years Drexel had allowed an opposing player to hand out 10 or more assists.

“When Juan’ya Green has the ball, all you’ve got to do is get open,” head coach Joe Mihalich said. “If there’s an inch to get it in there, he’s going to get it in there. I think he’s an elite passer.”

Brian Bernardi, brought in as a sharpshooting transfer from SMU, failed to make a 3-pointer for the first time in a Hofstra uniform in last Saturday’s loss to UNCW. The sophomore guard rebounded in a big way, knocking down six of 10 shots from behind the arc and leading his team with 23 points for the game.

“I just came into the game being aggressive,” Bernardi said. “In practice we just picked up the intensity and I stay in the gym and I always get my shots up. I don’t look at one bad game as anything that will affect me.”

Bernardi even drew a groan from Mihalich when, late in the second half, he passed up an open three to instead drive to the basket. He not only missed the layup, but was called for an offensive foul on the play as well.

“We had to yell at him for shooting a layup today,” Mihalich joked about Bernardi. “He had a three and went for a layup instead and we were yelling at him like ‘What are you doing?’”

Not only was Hofstra’s offense clicking on all cylinders, but its defense was on lockdown as well. Though Drexel entered halftime with 31 points, they would garner just 17 more over the first 17 minutes of the second half. During a 10:25 stretch in that half, the Dragons went without a field goal while being outscored 24-3.

Just how dominating was that second half for the Pride? During those 20 minutes Hofstra scored at a whopping rate of 1.43 points per possession while holding Drexel to just 0.81 PPP. Not only was the perimeter shooting getting the job done, but the Pride dominated the paint over the second half as well. Hofstra out-rebounded Drexel 25-12 over the final 20 minutes and outscored the Dragons 32-6 in the paint, finishing with a 50-16 advantage for the game.

“We know who we really are,” Mihalich said. “We weren’t that way Sunday and I think today is who we really are. To play as hard as we played, be as spirited as we were, and play with some good emotion and energy feels good.”

As has been the case for Drexel time and again this year, Damion Lee got the job done, but it wasn’t enough. Lee, the CAA’s leading scorer with 20.2 ppg, led all scorers Wednesday with 27 points including a perfect 13-13 mark from the charity stripe. It was the fourth time a Drexel player went perfect from the free throw line with at least 13 attempts and the first since Frantz Massenat went 15-15 at Towson on Valentine’s Day of 2012.

The only other Dragon to join Lee in double figures was junior Tavon Allen, who managed 10 points despite a 3-15 shooting night from the floor. Sammy Mojica fell just short with nine points, including a put-back at the halftime buzzer to cut the Hofstra lead to eight at the break.

Drexel continues to battle injuries. Lee missed all of last season with a knee injury and this year Bruiser Flint’s squad has had to overcome injuries to starting point guard Major Canady and forward Rodney Williams.

While the Dragons continue to battle through their troubles, Hofstra is riding high. With their victory Wednesday night combined with Delaware’s surprising defeat of William & Mary, the Pride are now back in a three way tie for second place looking up at top dog Northeastern, who hosts James Madison Thursday evening.

Regardless of that outcome, Hofstra will get its own shot at revenge against the Huskies on Feb. 12. From the look of things, it could very well be a battle for first place.

Vincent Simone covers Quinnipiac, the MAAC, and Hofstra for Big Apple Buckets. You can follow him on Twitter @VTSimone.

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