By Joe Pantorno, Assistant Sports Editor
Sophomore forward Shante Evans recorded a monster double double, with 28 points and 14 rebounds in front of a packed house for "What I want to be day," as the Hofstra University women's basketball team defeated Northeastern 77-63 to improve to 2-2 in conference play and 10-5 overall this season.
"It was a great ‘What I want to be' day crowd," said head coach Krista Killburn-Steveskey of the 1755 person attendance. "Probably the best we've had since my first year."
It seemed that the crowd noise was getting to Hofstra early as some sloppy play and miscommunication had the Pride on its back heels early. However, both teams were not shooting that well from the field allowing for a close start.
Northeastern was determined to crash the boards on offense, trying to take advantage of their size down low, but Hofstra's defense was up to the challenge, disturbing the Huskies' shots and doing everything they could to pick up rebounds.
Both teams upped the pace to superhero like speeds as some end to end court action and some amazing shooting from three-point range by junior guard Nicole Capurso created a 15-2 Hofstra run, putting the Pride up 17-8 with ten minutes left in the first half.
Capurso continued to dazzle the crowd with her shooting in the first half, shooting 4-6 from beyond the arc with 12 points in the first half.
"I was just getting the right looks and taking the right shots," said Capurso. "When I do that I know that I'll have a lot of confidence that my shots will fall."
The Huskies changed up the game plan a little, starting to take more shots from the outside, finding a bit more success, going on an 11-4 run and cutting the Pride's lead to four at 27-23 with just under five minutes left in the half.
Things got a little physical in the last few minutes of the half, as both teams traded baskets and a lot of contact with Hofstra going into the locker room up 37-29. Evans added 10 points and eight rebounds to the Pride's effort in the first.
Northeastern came out of the break with a full curt press on defense, stifling Hofstra's offense for the first few minutes of the second half as the Huskies started things on a 6-0 run.
The Hofstra defense settled things down, switching from a full court press, to a 2-3 zone, as the Pride created some crucial turnovers and reopened its lead.
The Huskies tried to slow down the pace of the game when on offense, but poor shooting created fast breaks for Hofstra that Northeastern just could not defend, creating a 49-39 Pride advantage with 13:38 left in the game.
While Hofstra was able to pick apart Northeastern's full court press, the Huskies were having a difficult time getting anything past the Pride, who were up 55-43 with 9:44 remaining.
"I was just trying to make the right play calls and reads to get them [my teammates] the ball," said junior guard Candice Bellocchio who had six assists for the night.
Despite the physical, sometimes chippy play, Hofstra's defense was able to stay out of foul trouble for a majority of the game, still disrupting the Huskies' game.
Evans caught fire in the last ten minutes of the game, getting in great shooting positions and hitting her shots no matter how contested they were. The sophomore did not miss a shot in the second half and wreaking havoc on the boards. The stellar play of Evans extended Hofstra's lead to 17 with 2:38 left.
"I was just concentrating on getting into the flow and going up strong," said Evans. "The past few games I've been throwing the ball up over the rim, and I saw that in film and was like ‘oh my goodness,' so we fixed that in practice."
Capurso, who did not have very successful second half, scored five straight points to finish with 19 on the night and put the game away.
The women's basketball team returns to action on Sunday, January 16 to take on UNC Wilmington at 12 p.m.