Snap Judgments: Hofstra vs. No. 1 Villanova (12.22.17)

Debby Wong/ALOST


akoiki-passport2 – by Adesina O. Koiki
A Lot of Sports Talk editor-in-chief


UNIONDALE, NY — Jay Wright accomplished the ultimate achievement of a collegiate basketball head coach at his current employer, Villanova University, but Friday night was a chance to come back to the town – and go up against an opponent – where his future hall-of-fame coaching career initially took off.

Mikal Bridges led five Wildcat players in double figures with 20 points as the top-ranked team in the country stayed undefeated with a resounding 95-71 victory over Hofstra in a Villanova “home” game that was played at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum on Long Island.

The game tonight served as a homecoming of sorts for Wright, whose first head coaching job in college basketball came at Hofstra, where he compiled a 122-85 record in seven seasons between 1994-95 and 2000-01. His last two seasons with the Pride resulted in NCAA Tournament appearances, and, after leading Hofstra to its second consecutive Big Dance in 2001, Wright left Long Island to take the head coaching job at Villanova.

The rest, as they say, is history, as Wright has led Villanova to five Big East regular-season titles, two Big East Tournament titles and the school’s second-ever NCAA Tournament title, back in 2016.

“Hofstra worked its schedule so we can play this game,” said Wright after the game, who mentioned that the idea to have Villanova play a designated home game in the New York City area was that of former St. John’s University athletic director Ed Manetta. “I wouldn’t want Villanova people to ever think that I would take this game – Villanova is not my team. It’s not my school. I just work for them. It’s not my right to take them to a place I love. So it worked out for me and I’m thrilled we were able to do it.”

After Hofstra’s Eli Pemberton hit a three-pointer to cut Villanova’s lead to 17-16, the Wildcats went on a 35-15 run to close out the first half. Freshman forward Omari Spellman was a menace to Hofstra on the inside and on the perimeter in the first 20 minutes, scoring 14 points, grabbing eight rebounds and hitting two of his three three-point attempts. He ended the game with 19 points and 10 rebounds.

Hofstra guard Justin Wright-Foreman, who came into the contest 10th in the country in scoring at 23 points per game, finished with 25 points on 9-of-18 shooting.

Not only was this game a homecoming for Wright, but it also acted as the debut of a new contributor to A Lot of Sports Talk. Photographer Thomas Battistelli was courtside during the game and was able to snap some great photos from tonight’s game. Above the byline and story is the photo gallery from the game, with all photos taken by Battistelli and by ALOST photographer Debby Wong. After clicking on the first photo to enlarge the picture, make sure to press the left and right arrow buttons to scroll through the rest of the pictures. There are eight pictures in total.

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