HEMPSTEAD, New York - Two-time CAA Player-of-the-Year and current NBA player Charles Jenkins was back at the David S. Mack Sports Complex Saturday afternoon to be honored by his alma mater, Hofstra,. But the Pride didn't need him.
Seniors Mike Moore and Nathaniel Lester torched UNCW for 50 of Hofstra's points to power the Pride over the Seahawks, 93-64, in the regular season men's basketball conference finale for both teams on Long Island.
The Pride improved to 10-21 overall and 3-15 in the CAA, and will be the No. 11 seed in next week's 28th CAA Men's Basketball Championship, facing No. 6 Georgia State in the last game Friday at 8:30 p.m The Seahawks, 9-20 and 5-13, will be the No. 9 seed and play No. 8 James Madison in the opening game of the conference tournament Friday in Richmond.
"We didn't get a shot off on the first three possessions and that's not the way to get started," said Buzz Peterson, UNCW's second-year coach. "We had a good practice yesterday, so it's puzzling to me why we came out like this. It's not easy playing someone on Senior Night, but I thought we would play with more effort and intensity in the first half."
Moore, the CAA's leading point producer, poured in 17 of his game-high total in the first half as the Pride jumped all over the Seahawks early and never relented. The Fordham transfer wound up connecting on 9-of-16 from the field, including 6-of-9 behind the arc, and made all six of his free throw attempts. Lester chimed in as well with 15 of his points in the first half and wound up converting 7-of-14 field goal attempts.
Stephen Nwaukoni, Stevie Mejia and Shemiye McLendon scored 10 points apiece to give the Pride five players in double figures, while Dwan McMillan dished out 15 assists in his final home game for Hofstra.
Keith Rendleman paced the Seahawks with 16 points and grabbed nine rebounds. Hofstra held the junior from Iron Station, N.C., shy of his usual double-double for the second time this season to earn a split of the regular season series.after losing to the Seahawks, 86-80, in January at Trask Coliseum.
The Pride raced out to a 9-0 lead, withstood an early response by the Seahawks and then spurted again behind Lester and Moore to put the game out of reach early by building a 45-25 margin at halftime and coasting the rest of the way.
In the early minutes, the Pride led 9-0 when Lester pumped in a jumper with 16:28 on the clock. Second-year coach Buzz Peterson them emptied his bench in frustration after watching his starters open the game with three turnovers on their first three possessions.
Sophomore guardTanner Milson rallied the Seahawks to a 14-11 advantage at 12:32, but Hofstra answered by scoring 18 of the next 22 points to break the game open. Moore scored 10 points and Lester had four markers in the outburst and a pair of free throws by McMillian with 4:36 left staked the Pride a 29-18 cushion.
Hofstra wound up leading, 45-25, at halftime after shooting 53.8 percent in the first period and continued its onslaught after intermission.
The Pride opened the second half by scoring 15 of the first 20 points and extended its lead to 60-30 on Lester's second triple of the game at 14:25. Lester later sank a free throw to give Hofstra its largest lead of the game, 90-53, with 2:17 left to play.
Hofstra scored a season-high for opponents against UNCW and shot 56.6 percent from the field for the best shooting effort by an opponent this season against the Seahawks, eclipsing Drexel's 52.7 percent effort on Jan. 14.
GAME NOTES: The Seahawks suffered their sixth straight loss and have dropped 10 of their last 11 outings....Peterson's team stands 4-12 on the road this season and finished 2-7 in conference road contests....Hofstra has won seven of 11 matchups with UNCW in Hempstead since the Pride joined the CAA in 2001-02. The Seahawks have lost four straight on Long Island and last won on the Pride's hardwood on Dec. 1, 2007... The Seahawks still own a slim 13-12 edge in the series and the two clubs have split the series three times...Rendleman made his 91st career appearance and 76th career start and is Overall, he has scored 981 points and needs just 19 points to become the 21st player in school history to reach the 1,000-point plateau...Rendleman's 305 rebounds this season give him 735 career caroms, second only to all-time great Brian Rowsom's 1,015 total.