WILMINGTON,NC (UNCW Sports)–Sophomore forward Isaac Kante sank the go-ahead layup with 6.5 seconds remaining to lift Hofstra past spirited UNCW, 63-61, in a tightly contested Colonial Athletic Association men’s basketball game on Thursday night at Trask Coliseum.
The Pride snapped a three-game losing streak to the Seahawks in Wilmington and improved to 14-5 overall and 5-1 in the CAA. The Seahawks dropped to 5-15 and 0-7 after making their debut under interim head coach Rob Burke.
The 6-7, 240-pound Kante scored 10 of his 12 points in the second half and teamed up with junior guard Tareq Coburn to help the Pride avert the upset. Coburn netted 12 of his team-high 15 points after the break as Hofstra turned back several runs by the Seahawks. Senior guard Eli Pemberton added 14 points and senior guard Desure Buie had 12 as four of the Pride’s five starters reached double figures.
Junior guard Mike Okauru led all scorers with a career-high 17 points for UNCW, which lost its 12th in a row. Freshman playmaker Shykeim Phillips collected 12 points and three assists with just one turnover in 31 minutes on the court.
“The effort was there,” said Burke, “we just have to get better. We just need more attention to detail. The guys in the lockerroom gave it everything they had.”
In a game that featured nine ties and 10 lead changes, the result was still in doubt after Okauru converted both ends of a bonus situation with 35.3 seconds left to knot the game at 61-all.
The Pride then delivered the ball to the elusive Buie, who drove the lane and dished off to Kante on the left side of the lane for the game-winning bucket. The transfer from Georgia was fouled on the play, but missed the free throw, giving the Seahawks one final chance with three seconds remaining.
UNCW inbounded the ball to the team’s leading scorer, Jaylen Sims, but the Pride surrounded the sophomore guard and his shot fell short of the mark as time expired.
The Pride used a quick start, sinking five straight field goal attempts at one point, to open up a 10-point lead early in the contest. Led by Pemberton, Hofstra went on a 13-2 run over a 3:13 stretch, capped by a soft floater by Pemberton on the left side for a 16-6 advantage.
The Seahawks responded, however, with an 8-0 spurt of their own to climb within 16-14, with 11:12 left in the first period. UNCW then closed out the first half strong and took a 32-28 edge into intermission.
The Seahawks conclude their two-game home stand on Saturday with a 7 p.m. tip against defending CAA champion Northeastern.