Hofstra staggers down the stretch again in loss to Rick Pitino’s Iona

NEW ROCHELLE, NY – You can see the results coming. It just has not happened yet.

Hofstra let a huge opportunity slip away in his season opener when Houston in 15th place beat it in overtime. Tuesday night’s loss to Rick Pitino’s Iona Gaels should be seen as another.

Pride got off to a bad start and was the better team on the floor in many stretches when it came back in the match and even equalized twice. But it was not the better team in the final four minutes as Iona gained some momentum from a pair of Tyson Jolly dunks and kept Pride away to give them an 82-74 loss at Hynes Center outside the conference.

Hofstra’s best returning player, Jalen Ray, made his season debut after missing the first two games due to a minor breach of team rules and had an immediate impact. He had a team-high 20 points, made six three-pointers and was on the floor during Pride‚Äôs best stretch.

Darlinstone Dubar had 14 points, Zach Cook 11 points and Aaron Estrada 11 for Hofstra (1-2).

Jolly had 21 points, and Dylan van Eyck and Nelly Junior Joseph added 12 points each for Iona (3-0).

Iona had all that embellished on a typical Pitino team. Long Islander has infused the withering press that his team is known for, and the gills like to run and shoot the three-pointer. They are both long and fast.

Iona threatened to break away at the start of the second half and built up to a 49-38 lead, but Ray and his penchant for making the big three-point shots turned the match into a white knuckler for the stretch.

Ray made three points on consecutive trips to get the comeback started by trimming the margin to five. He had another three-pointer with 12:02 left and then hit a couple of penalty throws on Pride’s next possession to get them within 55-53 with 11:15 left. Dubar scored on a drive to pull Hofstra himself for the first time playing with 10:45 left and would do it again with 9:50 left by making both ends one-and-one.

Hofstra equalized for the last time with 7:21 left on a couple of penalty throws by Zach Cooks. Caleb Burgess missed two free throws with 5:08 and Hofstra (1-2) one point down.

Iona led wire-to-wire in the first half and held a 39-32 lead at the break. Hofstra was very balanced in his attack with six players scoring between four and eight points, but had stretches with poor shooting.

Pride came out cold and came early in the hole against a very talented starting five for Iona. Hofstra missed nine of his first 10 shots, while Pitino’s team fed them a steady diet of their two top players: Junior Joseph and Jolly. Just five minutes inside, Iona had a 14-2 lead and the two accounted for a dozen points. Moments later, Joseph made his second mistake and ended up spending the rest of the half on the bench.

Aaron Estrada and Omar Silverio helped guide Pride back into the competition. Each scored six points as Hofstra snuck within three points three different times before the break.

Zach Cooks scored on a solid break layup to 22-19 with 9:29 left in the half, a Silverio three-pointer made it 25-22 about a minute later, and eventually Ray lowered a three-pointer by 1:57 at the break as Hofstra got within 35-32. The Pride would miss eight of their last nine shots.

Iona’s last four points in the half came on a couple of dunks by true freshman 6-9 Jordan Wildy, both of good feeds from van Eyck.

At the last ball possession before the break, Hofstra’s Jaquan Carlos saved a ball that was headed off the field and got it to Ray for a nice falling three-pointer by the buzzer. Officials initially thought the basket was good, but took it off the table after a video review.

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