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Hofstra veteran guards hand UCLA first loss of the season
By Jonathan Bassey, Contributing Writer
Published November 23, 2019

Guard Jalen Ray (20) scored 27 points ( Jerry Kelly/L.A.Sentinel/T.G.Sportstv1)

The UCLA Bruins looked to continue their strong start on the season hosting the Hofstra Pride at Pauley Pavillion. The Bruins are 4-0 for the second straight season behind 6’9 Junior guard Chris Smith’s team leading 15.5 points on the season, but were stunned and defeated by the east coast team 88-78 Thursday night.  

Coming into the contest the Bruins were 12.5 point favorites over Hofstra University from Long Island, New York. The game would quietly and quickly shaped up to be more competitive than the pregame odds had established. 

“I couldn’t be more proud of these two guys (Desure Buie and Jalen Ray). These two guys are not going to let us lose. I’m really proud of these guys. I feel like we really earned it. That team over there played just as well,” said Hofsta Head Coach Joe Mihalich.

Hofstra couldn’t keep up with UCLA in the paint. The Bruins scored 42 points in the paint on the Pride. 6’10 Sophomore Jalen Hill showed his size and athleticism in the paint early scoring the first points three points on a ferocious foul and score. Hill was the lone bright spot of the night for the Bruins, scoring 24 points with 12 rebounds. 

“They’re obviously not a big team, so we knew we could score the ball in the paint. We struggled mightily early in the game turning the ball over. They made it a game when they started pinching off the paint a little bit. We missed some wide-open looks, but offense wasn’t our problem,” said UCLA Head Coach Mick Cronin. 

Guard Chris Smith (5) scored 12 points in the match up ( Jerry Kelly/L.A.Sentinel/T.G.Sportstv1)

The Pride were not intimidated by the inside presence of the Bruins. Senior guards Eli Pemberton, Desure Buie, and Junior guard Jalen Ray kept the underdogs in the fight throughout the first half. Buie tallied 29 points, Ray scored 27 points, and Pemberton finished with 15 points. 

Despite the ineffectiveness in the paint Senior guard Desure Buie hit a deep three pointer with 1:28 in the half cutting the Bruin lead to a mere three points. At the halftime buzzer, the Bruin lead was cut down to one point despite leading hustle categories across the board. The Bruins were leading the Pride in points in the paint 22-8, and dominated bench points 16-2. 

 

“They had 22 assists. We scored three more baskets than them. They shoot 30 free throws, they don’t post up one time all night. So, beat off the dribble, beat off the dribble. We just couldn’t guard them off the bounce. We tried changing defenses, our guys got confused at that. We’re a work in progress as far as being able to change defenses,” said Cronin. 

The Bruins have prided themselves on defense, ranked fourth in the Pac-12 in fewest points allowed per game at 60.3. Not only are the Bruins at the top of the conference in defense. Coach Mick Cronin has his team second in the league in rebounding, outrebounding opponents by 9.5 boards per game while also averaging 6 blocks per game. 

With 9:34 left in the second half the Pride reached 61 points surpassing the superb Bruin average of holding their opponents to 60.3 points. Hofstra Junior guard Jalen Ray came to life with 19 points complicating the second half for the Bruin defense. The three veteran guards formed a three headed monster that proved to difficult for the Bruins to slay. 

“I treat every game the same. I just keep shooting and feel like I won’t miss,” said Hofstra guard Jalen Ray. “This is a legendary win. This building is very legendary. We are a first-rate team and we kept our composure.”

The nail in the coffin for the Bruins came with 4:37 left the play. The Bruins left Hofstra center Isaac Kante wide open on an inbound play for a two-handed slam extending the Pride lead 74-68 almost deflating all energy in the arena, forcing Mick Cronin to immediately call a timeout. 

 

“I’m upset, and I have to remind myself that this is going to be a process, but you’ve got to give the other kids credit. You’ve got to give the Hofstra kids credit. You have to. They came in, they played a good offensive game, they took care of the ball. Like I said, we’re getting beat off the dribble but they’re the ones doing it, so you’ve got to give them credit,” said Cronin. 

UCLA will look to get back to their winning ways when they head to the Maui Jim Maui Invitational in Lahaina, Hawaii next week. 

 

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