HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. - It was almost deja vu for Drexel. The Dragons had seen games play out like this before. On the road, they grab a big lead and squander it in the final minutes.
Saturday was different, though, as the Dragons preserved a nine-point second-half lead, despite ample pressure in the final three minutes, to beat Hofstra, 65-60, in front of a sellout crowd at Mack Sports Complex.
"We won a game that we've been losing the last couple weeks," Drexel coach Bruiser Flint said. "We have control and we lose our minds. Today we pulled it out."
Drexel (14-7, 6-5 Colonial Athletic Association) had a 10-point lead in the first half, but eight points by Hofstra's Michael Moore in the final 2 minutes, 15 seconds gave the Pride (14-8, 8-3) hope and a 35-30 deficit heading into the second.
"Mental toughness," said Bronx native Chris Fouch, who led Drexel with 18 points. "It's what coach preaches every day. Each team is going to give us their blow, and when they gave us theirs, we did a good job of counteracting."
Hofstra threw two punches, the first-half point surge by Moore and the second-half attempt at a comeback. The Pride got the lead to 61-60, down from a nine-point deficit with five minutes remaining.
Moore, who finished with a game-high 20 points, and Charles Jenkins combined for 26 of Hofstra's 30 points in the first half. Jenkins, who had 19 for the game, broke the school's career scoring record midway through the second half on a free throw.
After the historic bucket, Drexel put together a 10-3 run that proved to be too much for Hofstra. Frantz Massenat, Samme Givens, Dartaye Ruffin, and Fouch combined efforts on the scoring stretch and coasted with the lead until Hofstra made an attempt with its own eight-point run with 3:57 remaining.
Australia native Brad Kelleher's three-point basket at 3:28 brought Hofstra within arm's reach at 59-55, and Moore and Jenkins added a basket and free throw, respectively, but Givens' bucket at 1:34 was enough insurance before Hofstra was pressured to foul shortly after.
Ruffin, a freshman forward, recorded his third triple-double of the season, grabbing 14 rebounds and netting 15 points. His effort on the boards are a reflection of Drexel's total rebounding approach.
Hofstra lost the boards game, 47-24, to a Drexel team that is ranked fourth nationally in rebound margin with a 9.7 mark. Only Syracuse, William and Mary, George Mason, and James Madison have better numbers.
"He's been doing that for us all season," Fouch said of Ruffin. "We need to keep playing defense and rebounding. We're at our best when we're stopping people."