Rutgers 58, Hofstra 45
PISCATAWAY, N.J. (AP) _ Geoff Billet hit two key 3-pointers in a big second-half that helped Rutgers beat Hofstra 58-45 Wednesday night in the first round of the NIT on Wednesday night.
The Scarlet Knights (19-12), playing in their first postseason game since 1992, struggled in advancing to a second-round game against Clemson, which beat Georgia 77-57.
A major part of Rutgers’ problem might have been the letdown of not getting into the NCAA tournament on Sunday. It also might have been a tough defense by Hofstra (22-10) of the America East Conference.
Whatever, Rutgers won despite hitting 39 percent from the field, including 4-of-20 on 3-pointers and 12-of-29 from the free-throw line. The Scarlet Knights made only one of their first 15 attempts from 3-point range.
Hofstra might have given Rutgers a tougher time had point guard Craig ``Speedy″ Claxton played. The heart of the Dutchmen’s offense sat on the bench in street clothes and watched his teammates shoot 35 percent from the field and commit a season-high 24 turnovers.
Billet had 15 points and Jeff Greer added 13 for Rutgers. Jason Hernandez had 15 points and Roberto Gittens 13 for Hofstra, which was making its first postseason appearance since an NCAA berth in 1977.
Rutgers put the game away with two spurts, the first an 11-2 run that Billet capped with a 3-pointer for a 38-28 lead with 9:40 to play.
After Hofstra crept within 38-33 on a 3-pointer by Hernandez, Billet hit another 3-pointer in an 11-0 run for a 49-33 lead.