By Anders Jorstad — STAFF WRITER
The Hofstra Pride men’s basketball team gave up an 18-0 run to open up the second half against Auburn and couldn’t recover, falling in the third-place game of the Gildan Charleston Classic 89-78.
It was a blistering first half between the two squads. Hofstra and Auburn ripped up and down the floor, trading three-pointers and easy buckets all over the floor. The Tigers and the Pride each made more than half of their shot attempts in the first half. Auburn shot 46.7 percent from downtown as well, while Hofstra made 56.3 percent of its threes.
It seemed like neither team could miss. The two continued to go back and forth throughout the half with neither team giving up much ground. Hofstra ended up with a 50-49 advantage heading into the locker room thanks in large part to Eli Pemberton, who led all scorers with 19 points in the first half.
But the Tigers came out of the second half with a vengeance. Auburn burst out to an 18-0 run, holding the Pride without a score through the first seven minutes of the second frame. Hofstra was bottled up by Auburn’s stingy defense, which had switched back to a tight man-to-man with a full-court press after made Tiger baskets.
Hofstra forced three-pointers and long jumpers that wouldn’t fall. When the shots didn’t go down, the Pride committed some frustration fouls. Pemberton appeared to roll his ankle on an offensive drive and later got charged with a technical foul when no foul was called on his shot attempt.
After an offensive show in the first half, Pemberton scored just four points in the second half. The Pride shot 39.3 percent from the floor and a dismal 16.7 percent from long range while the Auburn offense continued to churn out easy looks.
The Pride managed to get into a rhythm toward the end of the second half, but Auburn’s 18-0 run dug the Pride into a hole the team couldn’t climb out of.
Much like the team’s previous game against Clemson, Hofstra played a very competitive first half with a Power Five conference foe but couldn’t keep up the pace in the second frame. When Hofstra is at the top of its game, it can compete with just about anyone. But the Pride often struggles to get more creative on offense when its long-range shots stop falling.
The two losses to Clemson and Auburn show that the Pride still have a ways to go this season. Hofstra played competitive games against two terrific programs, and through RPI — a metric oft-used to select NCAA tournament teams in March — the losses will be looked upon as good ones.
Hofstra drops to 3-2 after the loss and comes home with one win from the Gildan Charleston Classic. The Pride will enjoy a long break for Thanksgiving before hitting the road to face off against Siena on Saturday. Hofstra will hope that it can keep up the strong play and stretch out its offensive efficiency to last a full 40 minutes.