Hempstead, NY (Dec. 30) - The Hofstra Men's Basketball team continued its storied history at the prestigious Holiday Festival by capturing the tournament title on Friday evening with a 63-51 win over St. John's at Madison Square Garden.
Hofstra has made five all-time appearances at the Holiday Festival, and has now earned three championships in those five appearances. The Pride won its first title in 1998 with wins over Georgia Tech and Pennsylvania, then repeated in 1999 by defeating Rutgers and Fordham. Hofstra nearly earned a three-peat in 2000, defeating Rutgers to advance to its third straight championship game, before falling to Penn State 74-71 to end as runners-up.
This year, the Pride fought back from an 11-point second half deficit to defeat Saint Joseph's 65-63 in the opening round on Thursday night, as senior guard Loren Stokes (Buffalo, NY) converted on the game-winning jumper with 2.2 seconds left in regulation. Hofstra then renewed its local rivalry with St. John's in the title game, prevailing 63-51 behind 24 points from Tournament Most Valuable Player Antoine Agudio.
Agudio joined two-time winner Norman Richardson (1998, 1999) on the list of Hofstra's Holiday Festival Most Valuable Players. Agudio's 24 points against St. John's was the highest total for a Pride player in the tournament, eclipsing the 23 that Richardson scored against Georgia Tech in 1998.
Hofstra also continued its recent run of success against St. John's, defeating the Red Storm for the fourth season in a row, all by double-digit margins. The streak began in 2003-04, when the Pride handed St. John's an 81-64 defeat at Carnesecca Arena, the second-worst loss that the Red Storm has ever suffered at its on-campus facility. In 2004-05, St. John's visited Hofstra for the first time in 30 years, with the Pride prevailing 78-68 at Hofstra Arena. Last year, Hofstra trailed by 13 at the half at Carnesecca Arena (40-27), but held St. John's to only 11 second half points on its way to a 64-51 win.
The Pride is now the first non-conference team to defeat St. John's in four straight seasons since St. Louis capped off a streak of eight straight wins over the Red Storm in the 1960-61 campaign. The only non-conference team with a longer winning streak over St. John;s in the last 45 years is Duke at five games, which spanned from the 1985-86 season trhough the 1998-99 campaign (and also included two NCAA Tournament games in 1990 and 1991). The last Metropolitan-area team to defeat the Red Storm four straight times was Manhattan, from 1953-56.