Thursday, November 21, 2013

Upshaw, Hofstra Look To Hit Jackpot At Mohegan Sun

Fresh off career night against Richmond, Zeke Upshaw will look to put Hofstra back in win column this weekend at Mohegan Sun. (Photo courtesy of Hofstra University)

Despite losses in three of their first four games, Hofstra University is much better than their otherwise lackluster record lets on.

In this first quartet of games in Joe Mihalich's maiden voyage at the helm in Hempstead, the Pride have competed in each one, narrowly losing a hard-fought game to open the season against Monmouth before Hofstra's lone victory, a 22-point thrashing of a rebuilding Fairleigh Dickinson program. To top it all off, the residents of the Mack Sports Complex played Louisville to a five-point game midway through the second half before holding a lead late in regulation in their most recent contest Tuesday night at Richmond.

With Juan'ya Green and Ameen Tanksley, both of whom Mihalich recruited at Niagara before they followed him to Long Island and transferred to Hofstra, sitting out this season, the Pride have had to find a consistent scoring option, and they may have tapped a gold mine in Zeke Upshaw three nights ago. A swingman who came to Hempstead as a graduate transfer from Illinois State this offseason, Upshaw had the game of his life Tuesday night, erupting for 37 points in the losing effort against Chris Mooney's Spiders. For Upshaw, who amassed a grand total of 100 points in a Redbirds uniform before transferring, the breakout game moved him over the 20-point per game plateau on the young season, and the Chicagoan is just 17 points away from equaling his career numbers at Illinois State. From a program standpoint, the tour de force outing is even more significant in the sense that it was Hofstra's first 30-point game from a single player since Mike Moore managed 30 in February of 2012 against UNC Wilmington, and the 37 points were the highest total by a Hofstra player since Charles Jenkins' 40-point outburst against Binghamton in December of 2010, two months before his iconic buzzer-beater to defeat William & Mary.

The Pride open their two-game stint in the Hall of Fame tournament at Mohegan Sun on Saturday against John Gallagher and the University of Hartford, with either Belmont or Holy Cross awaiting Hofstra on Sunday before Mihalich and his team return home to welcome Steve Masiello and Manhattan into Hempstead one week from Saturday.

***Upshaw's statistical info is brought to you by Stephen Gorchov, Hofstra's associate director of athletic communications and men's basketball media contact***

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