Historic Streak Brings Basketball Pride Back to Hempstead

After past seasons of disappointment and low morale, the chatter about making it back to the “Big Dance” for the first time since 2001 is loud once again in Hempstead, New York. This new-found optimism stems from the Pride’s historic 16-game winning streak spanning from the end of November and into February, the longest winning streak in the country at the time. Although the streak ended on Feb. 2 with a 61-75 loss to Northeastern, the energy it brought to Hofstra Basketball has left the possibility of an NCAA Tournament run on the table for the Pride.

A Streak that Swept the Nation

If asked at the time which NCAA Division I team had the longest winning streak in the nation, the first teams that came to mind would have been powerhouses like Duke University, University of North Carolina (UNC) or Kentucky. However, the unlikely answer lied in the humble Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) with the Hofstra Pride. Although Hofstra’s schedule may not be as challenging as some of the ranked teams, a 16-game win streak is still unprecedented in NCAA Division I play. The biggest challenge in a college basketball season is being consistent. When the streak ended on Feb. 2, the Pride stood next to The University of Tennessee, the top-ranked team in the country, with the longest active winning streak. While Hofstra may not have received the attention the Duke Blue Devils or the Kentucky Wildcats would have with a winning streak like that, the Pride did manage to turn some heads and start some conversations.

The Right Kind of Coverage

In the New York metro area, the college basketball sphere is typically dominated by the likes of Seton Hall, St. John’s University, and Rutgers University and even Stony Brook University, while Hofstra University flies under the radar. However, with the Pride cruising through one opponent after another, and maintaining a comfortable lead in the CAA standings, media outlets began gravitating towards Hofstra. It helped that they made a few spectacular plays along the way.

Both Justin Wright-Foreman and Eli Pemberton landed themselves and the Pride on SportsCenter’s Top 10 plays with some spectacular shots. First, it was Wright-Foreman, keeping the streak alive against Northeastern on Jan. 5 as he hit the game-winning three in the dying seconds of the game. That 75-72 win would be Hofstra’s 10th straight, and a career game for senior guard Wright Foreman as he racked up 42 points. Wright-Foreman has emerged as the Hofstra’s catalyst this season, averaging 26.3 points per game. Wright-Foreman is third in the nation in scoring and has come up with huge performances for the Pride down the stretch.

 

 

Then, it was junior guard Eli Pemberton showing off his range against James Madison University on Jan. 24. As the first half came to a close, Pemberton sunk a full court shot from the baseline, giving the Pride 42-33 at the half. Hofstra would go on to win game number 15 out of 16 in the streak 85-68, and Pemberton would finish with 20 points.

 

 

Aside from the appearances on SportsCenter, Hofstra also gained attention from local news sources, appearing on the 11 o’clock news on News 4 New York and NBC4’s Sports Final with Bruce Beck. Additionally, the historic streak was covered by Newsday, The New York Times, The Inquirer and News 12 Long Island. The hard work and immaculate play of the Hofstra Pride throughout the 2018/19 season has put Hempstead back on the map in the world of college basketball media coverage. A Chance to Dance With a 12-2 CAA conference record and a 22-5 overall record, the Pride has a chance to add more to the conversation post-win streak. Their chances of making it to the NCAA Tournament will all come down to three games next month in Charleston, South Carolina. In order to qualify and take hold of the single bid the CAA receives for the Big Dance, Hofstra will have to win the CAA Tournament. All the hype this season’s performances have created could all be for naught if the Pride does not show up and play their best throughout those matchups. Although the winning streak was impressive, and Hofstra is on their way to an outright winning season, it is unlikely they will be selection committee will give them an at-large spot if they do not secure that bid. However, Hofstra’s chances to win the tournament are high, even with heavy contender Northeastern in the way. If the Pride can maintain their motivation and lock-in, they can make a three-game winning streak in Charleston the most important streak of their season. If they make it to the tournament and seeding works in their favor, Hofstra has the heart and morale to make a dent during March Madness.