DOWN SIX points to visiting Hofstra with just over two minutes to play, La Salle's Jordan Price - the nation's fifth-leading scorer at 25 points per game - had that look in his eye; the look all great scorers have when they're in the zone.
Price rejected a screen, took a step back and drained his sixth three of the game from the top of the key, prompting a timeout as the Pride clung to a three-point lead.
When Hofstra's leading scorer, fifth-year senior Juan'ya Green, walked back to his bench, Pride coach Joe Mihalich smiled in Green's direction and offered some words of consolation to his best player.
"(Price) hit his last shot and coach actually looked at me and he said, 'That guy can shoot,' and I said, 'Yeah, there's nothing you can do. He's shooting it from far,' " Green said, chuckling between every other word. "It's great competition and (Price) is a good player, but I'm just glad we got the win."
Price, a 6-5, 230-pound junior from Decatur, Ga., did everything in his power to keep the Explorers in the game Wednesday, scoring a career-high 37 points on 15-for-22 shooting and seven triples - the highest scoring output from a La Salle player since Steve Smith scored 41 in December 2005 - and grabbing seven rebounds to go with four assists, but it wasn't enough as Hofstra (5-2) emerged with an 84-80 victory.
Hofstra's scoring attack featured six players in double figures, led by junior guard Brian Bernardi's 22 points, but the cog that made Mihalich's offense run so smoothly was Green, who finished with a game-high eight assists to go with 10 points - roughly 10 below his average of 19.8 - and iced the game down the stretch by going 6-for-6 from the line in the final minutes.
Green scored only two points on 1-for-7 shooting in the first half, but found his teammates for easy looks as he notched six assists before the break to give Hofstra a 44-31 lead.
"I say it all the time: If there's a better passer in the country, I've got to see him," Mihalich said of Green. "There's nobody that passes and handles the game the way he does.
"Point guards aren't bred, they're born . . . Juan'ya Green is a point guard," added Mihalic, who earned his 300th career win in the same gym where he played from 1974-78 and served as an assistant coach from 1981-98. "He runs the team, he leads the team, he's got a basketball IQ off the charts, he makes everybody better and we have guys that just play off of him."
Green, a Philly native who played his high school basketball roughly 17 miles from La Salle at Archbishop Carroll, said he was a little frustrated when his shots weren't falling in the first half, especially with "a lot" of family in the crowd at Tom Gola Arena.
He also said he could hear a few of his relatives chirping at him during the game once Price, his responsibility on defense, really started to heat up.
"I actually thought Juan'ya's defense on (Price) in his last three or four possessions . . . he couldn't get his shot off," Mihalich said. "He was very uncomfortable when Juan'ya was guarding him."
La Salle (4-2), a loser of two of its last three, fought back from a 17-point deficit with 17 minutes left in the game thanks to the heroics of Price, but John Giannini's bunch couldn't overcome the veteran savvy of Hofstra in the final minutes.
"We got beat by a very good team," Giannini said. "They're more experienced than us, they're better shooters than us, they have more size than us . . . (Ameen) Tanksley is a fifth-year senior, Denton Koon is a fifth-year senior, Juan'ya Green is a fifth-year senior. Those are some old, good players, and they were better than us."