WASHINGTON, D.C. — Camren Wynter was scoreless, and Drexel was shooting 1-for-10 on threes. It was just a three-point game at the half, somehow.
An optimistic view would be that Wynter would get going, and the threes would start to fall. However, it is hard to hold down Hofstra’s high-powered offense for so long.
Wynter never got going, and the threes didn’t start to fall. Instead, it was Hofstra springing ahead in the second half. The No. 1 seeded Pride’s offense got scorching hot, and they defeated the No. 8-seeded Dragons (14-19, 6-12 Colonial Athletic Association), 61-43 in the CAA quarterfinals at the Entertainment and Sports Arena.
Hofstra’s (24-8, 14-4) zone defense is a complicated one that forces turnovers and makes players uncomfortable in traffic. Drexel had an early scoring drought, but Zach Walton entered and help lead an 11-0 run.
The Pride’s defense adjusted, and scoring became harder than high-school algebra. Drexel’s offense went on a scoring drought as Hofstra’s Eli Pemberton went on a personal run to put the Dragons away.
Hofstra advances to the conference tournament semifinals and will play No. 5 seed Delaware, a 79-67 winner over College of Charleston, on Monday at 6 p.m.
Wynter finished the game scoreless with two rebounds and one assist. It was hard for the sophomore guard to penetrate the zone defense with two Hofstra defenders at the top of the key. James Butler recorded his 20th double-double and finished with 14 points and 14 rebounds.
Hofstra led 25-22 at the half. The Pride went on to shoot 53% in the second half. Drexel was held to 32% shooting.
Pemberton’s early second half run led to a team-high 19 points. First-team All-CAA guard Desure Buie and Jalen Ray each added 14 points. The Pride’s starters scored all of their points.
“Really proud of our team,” Zach Spiker said. “Today it caught up with us a little bit. Having to play twice, and that second half just wasn’t our finest hour.”
“I feel for him to have an ending like that,” Spiker said of Wynter’s scoreless game. “It’s going to drive him to do something really special. He’s a tough kid, he’ll learn from it, and I love coaching him.”
“It can be very difficult,” Butler said on playing two games in two days. “When you get to that tournament time, you have to be mentally prepared for it. If you want to win a championship you have to embrace it."
Mate Okros and Coletrane Washington shot 6 for 8 from three in Saturday’s first-round game. Neither player made a three against Hofstra, and Drexel shot 2-for-22 from long range.
Hofstra coach Joe Mihalich said the team’s goal is to make opponents uncomfortable. His defense succeeded by allowing just six assists on 18 made Drexel baskets.