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Hofstra to host Harvard in first round of WNIT Thursday

By Joe Pantorno, Sports Editor

Though there might have been some nerves going into Monday night's Women's National Invitational Tournament (WNIT) selection, the Hofstra women's basketball team is safe in the field of 64 as it will host Harvard on Thursday night at 7 p.m.
This is Hofstra's second WNIT appearance in three years since the Pride made it to the second round of the tournament in 2010 before losing to VCU.
Sputtering into this postseason, Hofstra is 6-7 in its last 13 games, including a loss in the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) quarterfinals to UNC-Wilmington, 94-87 last Friday.
"I think we kind of told them a little bit more about what's at stake this year," said head coach Krista Kilburn-Steveskey. "I don't think we responded as well this year when the pressure cooker was on."
The tough end to the season is not to overshadow the first half the year the Pride had, as the team finished this season 19-11 including wins over St. John's and Kansas State in November.
St. John's went on to upset at the time no. 3 UConn in Stoors, CT and also grabbed a three seed in this year's NCAA Tournament.
The Pride is led by junior forward Shante Evans who averaged 19.0 points and 10.4 rebounds per game. Evans was recently voted to the Naismith Top 32 list to outline some of the nation's best women's college basketball players.
Harvard comes into Thursday night with a 17-11 record and is currently on a four game winning streak with victories over Penn, Columbia, Cornell and Dartmouth.
The Crimson is led by sophomore guard Christine Clark who is averaging 15.2 points per game
After Hofstra's loss to UNC-W on Friday, Kilburn-Steveskey and her squad is looking for redemption.
"We're ready, our team is ready for a clean slate," said Kilburn-Steveskey. "We're just going to try and take care of business on Thursday. They know that we have what it takes to do it."
"I know they'll be excited on Thursday. When they look at the banners and they see three [postseason banners] and realize they made number four," said Kilburn-Steveskey. "We know we've done a lot of good things and we can't hang our hat on that.
Though there is business to be taken care of on Thursday, with the fast paced scheduling of a postseason tournament, Kilburn-Steveskey and staff is looking ahead.
"My assistants have been working diligently," said Kilburn-Steveskey. "We've been watching a lot of game film."

Senior guard Nicole Capurso (22) tries to get around the defense. (Cody Heintz/The Chronicle)

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