Philadelphia -- Senior forward Nathaniel Lester scored 22 of his 27 points in
the second half, but three Drexel players scored 15-plus points as the Pride
fell to the Dragons, 78-67, in a conference matchup at the Daskalakis Athletic Center on Saturday afternoon.
Hofstra got as close as two points early in the second half yet couldn't account for Chris Fouch, who scored 20 of his 25 points in the second half and hit seven three-pointers total coming off the bench. Senior guard Mike Moore added 18 points, including his 1,000th career point for the Hofstra program, though the Pride fell to 8-19 and 2-13 in Colonial Athletic Association play.
Frantz Massenat scored 20 points and Damion Lee added 15 to
help first-place Drexel extended its winning streak to 13 games in lifting the
Dragons to 21-5 and 13-2.
"They are clearly one of the best teams in the league and one of the best mid-major teams in the country," Hofstra head coach Mo Cassara said. "Our effort was solid. We continue to play hard, we just haven't made enough winning plays to beat a team like Drexel."
Lester went 12-of-15 from the foul line, scoring in double figures for the23rd time in 27 games this season. Hofstra is the first Drexel opponent in the last 15 games to crack the 60-point mark against the Dragons. Cassara's team held an 18-7 turnover advantage and hoisted 17 more shots. Drexel held on for the win thanks to 59.6 percent shooting from the field (28-for-47).
"We had a lot of great opportunities around the basket and we weren't able to execute," Cassara said. "Nat plays hard and gives us energy. We just need a few more guys to step up for us. If we have a couple of more guys in double figures, we can win games."
Down by eight to start the second half, Hofstra surged to an 8-2 run coming out of the break to make it a two-point game. But Drexel responded with a 10-0 run, propelled by Fouch's six consecutive points. Lee then allowed the Dragons breathing room, grabbing his own rebound and drawing a foul on freshman forward Moussa Kone on his put-back for a three-point play and a 49-36 Drexel lead with 13:15 left.
Drexel went up by as much as 19 in the second half and Hofstra got as close as eight in the final five minutes on Lester's lone three-pointer of the contest.
The Pride made it interesting after going down by six possessions. Moore made a layup then drilled a long-range head-on three-pointer to cut the deficit to 67-54 with 5:29 left, marking five points for the shooting guard in less than a minute. The Pride generated a turnover and sophomore guard Shemiye McLendon hit a left-wing three pointer. Following another defensive stop, Lester hit a jumper to make it 67-59.
Fouch then elicited a roar from the DAC crowd, hitting his
fifth three-pointer of the half just in front of Drexel's bench. Lester
responded with his own three-pointer next trip down, putting it at 70-62 with
3:28 on the clock. Hofstra never got closer than that despite McLendon's seven
points off the bench.
Moore became the 31st player to score 1,000 career points for the Hofstra program on a running floater with 4:26 remaining in the first half. The veteran guard has more than 1,500 career points after racking up 513 in two seasons for Fordham before transferring to Hofstra. Moore is the second player this season to join the 1,000-point scorer club. Lester accomplished the feat against Towson on Feb. 1.
Drexel's employed effective ball movement on the perimeter to
create open looks early in building an 11-4 lead almost 4:30 in. The Dragons
went up by as much as 10 before Moore spurred a Hofstra run, cutting it 23-21 while holding
Drexel without a point for almost six minutes.
The Dragons then regained momentum, going on an 8-0 run to establish a 32-24 edge at the break. Hofstra put up 14 more shots than the Drexel in the opening half, though the Pride struggled in finding a rhythm in going 8-for-34 from the field in the opening 20 minutes.
Cassara utilized the same starting lineup for the 16th
consecutive game, going with Moore and McMillan at guards and Lester,junior forward David Imes and
sophomore forward Stephen Nwaukoni at the forward spots.
Lester passed Percy Johnson (1950-53) and Darius Burton (1993-97) for 26th place on the team's all-time scoring list. He now has 1,064 career points.
Hofstra will next be in action on Tuesday when the team will host Delaware at 7 p.m. from the Mack Sports Complex. The Pride will be looking for a split in the season series after the Blue Hens squeaked out a 67-66 home victory at the Carpenter Center on Jan. 4.