By Felipe Fontes — STAFF WRITER
After riding high on a three-game win streak to start off the season, the Hofstra men’s basketball team got handed its first loss when it faced the Clemson Tigers in the semi-finals of the Gildan Charleston Classic on Friday night, losing 78-59 in the non-conference matchup.
After Eli Pemberton and Justin Wright-Foreman combined for 46 points against Dayton on Thursday, the potent combo put up another strong effort, combining for 34 against the Tigers.
Unfortunately, that wasn’t enough to offset the Clemson offense, who stacked the scoreboard with four players in double digits.
Leading the way was forward Donte Grantham, who posted a game high 22 points.
Grantham was incredibly efficient from the field, connecting on nine of his 12 shots, including three from downtown.
Although the Tigers backcourt left their mark on the scoreboard as well, it was their defensive presence that was felt most by the Pride.
To go along with their 29 combined points, guards Marquise Reed and Shelton Mitchell pestered the Hofstra offense with 4 steals, disrupting the offensive flow.
“I thought their guards really defended. They made it tough for our point guards to get us into our offense. The first pass was always a tough one to make. There’s no doubt it hurt us,” Hofstra head coach Joe Mihalich said.
Overall, the Pride lost the turnover battle 13 to six, while getting no steals compared to Clemson’s eight.
Despite Clemson’s ability to slow them down, the Pride was able to get the lead within reach throughout various points of the game.
Particularly, with 3:22 left in the first half, Hofstra only trailed by two before Clemson was able to stretch the 30-28 lead into a larger one going into the half. Similarly, early in the second half, Hofstra was able to get within six, trailing 48-42 before the Tigers went on a 9-0 run.
“Over the last 11 minutes I think Clemson only scored 14 points. We had some good stretches in there, but we just had a couple of bad ones. And we just couldn’t recover from those bad stretches,” Mihalich said.
In the loss, Rokas Gustys posted his second double-double of the season and the 36th of his career, notching a solid 10 in both points and rebounds.
The Pride loss came just a day after a narrow three-point victory against the University of Dayton in the first game of the Gildan Charleston Classic.
Hofstra’s all-time record against Clemson now sits at 0-4.
After the tough loss to the ACC’s Tigers, the Pride will close out the tournament against another Tigers team from the SEC, Auburn University.