Saturday, September 30

Hofstra taken out of it early, eliminated from CAA Tournament

WASHINGTON — Speedy Claxton, casually dressed in a white top and black pants, was anything but relaxed in the first half Sunday night.

He spent most of the first stanza with his arms folded in front of the Hofstra bench, watching his team build a hole that only a gopher could have escaped from.

The third-seeded Pride lost to sixth-seeded College of Charleston, 92-76, in the quarterfinals of the Colonial Athletic Association Tournament at the Entertainment and Sports Arena in Washington. Hofstra fell behind 19-8 in the opening minutes and 55-33 at halftime.

Charleston’s John Meeks scored 22 of his 31 points in the first half. At one point late in the half, Claxton raised his arms in dismay after his team allowed an easy dunk to give the Cougars a 53-29 lead.

Claxton, in his first season at the helm of his alma mater, saw his team fall to 21-11 and its dream of a trip to the NCAA Tournament vanish. The Pride will have to wait and see if another postseason tournament has a spot for them.

Hofstra trimmed its deficit to 61-49 with 14:37 left in the game when Omar Silverio hit a three-pointer from the baseline.

Jalen Ray, who led the Pride with 21 points, hit a three-pointer to trim the margin to 70-60, and another trey made it 70-63 before the Cougars called timeout with 10:47 remaining.

A basket by Aaron Estrada cut the Charleston lead to 76-67 with 6:41 to go. But Charleston took an 88-70 lead with 3:05 left, and a layup by Dimitrius Underwood made it 90-72 with 2:22 left.

Hofstra missed its first four shots of the game and trailed 14-5 before the first media timeout. The Cougars led 21-12 after a basket by Meeks, who got off to a blazing start with determined drives to the basket and pull-up jumpers.

Junior guard Estrada, named the CAA Player of the Year on Thursday, entered the game averaging 18.5 points and scored 19 against Charleston.

Estrada totaled 58 points in two regular-season games against the Cougars this season.

Zach Cooks, the Sixth Man of the Year in the CAA, had just two points in the first half for the Pride and ended up with eight. Abayomi Iyiola had 11 points and five rebounds.

The Pride were outrebounded 40-26 and outscored 46-30 in the paint.

Charleston will play No. 2 seed UNC Wilmington on Monday in the semifinals.

Hofstra won the two regular-season games over the Cougars by a total of eight points, the latest an 89-84 decision at home Feb. 28.

Claxton said a few days later that he didn’t like the idea of playing the same team again in the CAA Tournament.

On Sunday night, the Pride and their fans found out why he was so worried.

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