Monday night was the Charles Jenkins-Nathaniel Lester show with the dynamic scoring duo combing for 67% of Hofstra’s offense in a critical 84-80 win over Fairfield.
Jenkins scored a career-high 38 points including 26 in the second half while Lester tallied 18 to propel Hofstra to come-from-behind second-half win over the Stags. Both veterans hit big second half shots and perhaps no basket was bigger than when Jenkins drained a three-pointer with the shock clock winding down and 1:20 left that gave Hofstra an 82-77 lead. It was one of five treys he drained in seven attempts.
“Jenkins and Lester] responded,” said Hofstra men’s basketball head coach Tom Pecora in the post-game press conference. “It was nice to see a couple of the veterans step up.”
Lester also stepped up huge on defense coming up with a game-saving block on a potential tying three-point attempt with four seconds left and the Pride clinging to an 83-80 lead. The 6’5 junior guard had a solid all-around game with two blocks and four rebounds to go along with his 18 points.
Jenkins was clutch the entire second half especially when he scored six critical points to launch a 13-5 run over a 3:41 stretch in the second half that turned a 55-50 deficit into a 63-60 Pride lead with 10:23 left. Jenkins making big baskets late in the Fairfield game was a far cry from last Tuesday’s 80-72 setback to Charlotte where the junior All-American candidate only had three touches in the final eight minutes of the game.
“Good things generally happen when the ball is in his hands,” said Pecora of the importance of getting Jenkins the ball late in games.
The performances of Jenkins and Lester helped offset some negatives such as being out-rebounded for the second straight game 38-29 and allowing the Stags to shoot 55% from the floor. “Did we play the way I want us to play, ‘no’, did we play well enough to win big games the rest of the year, ‘no’, but we found a way to find a way to win a game at home,” said Pecora.
Monday’s win improves Hofstra to 4-3 heading into a pivotal Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) opener at Towson this Saturday. “It’s going to be a battle,” said Pecora of Saturday’s first CAA game in suburban Baltimore.