Senior guard Juan’ya Green scored 15 of his 18 game-high points in the second half, including the final eight points of the game, to lift Hofstra into a tie for first place in the Colonial Athletic Association with a 70-69 victory over UNCW on Thursday night at Trask Coliseum.
The Pride won its fifth in a row to improve to 21-8 overall and 13-4 in the CAA. The Seahawks stand 21-7 and 13-4.
“It was a hard-fought game and we’re very disappointed,” said Kevin Keatts, UNCW’s second-year head coach. “We were aggressive in the first half and did some great things to get the lead. Give Hofstra credit on the defensive end. They picked the defensive pressure up.
“There were a lot of 50-50 balls that we didn’t get. To come up short is a tough one. We’ve got to have a short term memory. As disappointing as it is, you’ve got to move on.”
Green, who went without a field goal until just under five minutes left in the contest, finished with a flurry, canning 4 of 10 field goals, 2 of 4 treys and 8-of-11 at the free throw line to share scoring honors with backcourt mate Ameen Tanksley. Tanksley added 18 points, while sophomore center Rokas Gustys scored 12 points and grabbed 21 rebounds.
The Pride trailed by as many as 18 points late in the first half and were down 69-62 with 1:46 remaining when Green, the CAA’s Preseason Player of the Year, got untracked.
The slippery guard connected on a three-pointer at 1:27 to pull the Pride within 69-65 and then drained another triple 30 seconds later as Hofstra crept to 69-68 with 53 seconds showing. After a pair of missed free throws by the Seahawks, Green sank a pair of charity tosses to give the Pride a 70-69 edge with 25 seconds left to play.
The Seahawks misfired on the other end, but came up with a loose ball, only to miss three shots near the bucket as time expired.
UNCW shot 56.3 percent in the first half to open a 41-25 cushion at intermission, but the Pride roared back in the early moments of the final period to close the gap.
The Seahawks conclude the regular season on Saturday with a 1 p.m. tilt against Towson as UNCW pays tribute to seniors Craig Ponder, Kevin Hickson and Dylan Sherwood in their final home appearances.