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Women's basketball to play waiting game

By Joe Pantorno, Sports Editor

 

Coming into this season, there was only one goal for the Hofstra women's basketball team: the first berth to the NCAA Tournament in program in history.

A flying start turned into a sputtering finish as the Pride dropped its final game of the regular season at Northeastern, 80-62, a game that was considered very winnable.

"I don't like the way we're playing," said head coach Krista Kilburn-Steveskey. "We're not playing smart. At the speed we're playing, if we can't play at that speed, we need to make adjustments.

Though it dropped from the third to fourth seed in the Colonial Athletic Association Championships with the loss, there was still a glimmer of hope that the Pride was just a run away from the big show.

The dream of the NCAAs was shattered on Friday night after the Pride's 94-87 loss to UNC-Wilmington in the quarterfinals of the CAA Championships, the first game for Hofstra, which enjoyed a bye for the first round thanks to the top four finish.

"It's been a puzzling thing the past few weeks with this squad," said head coach Krista Kilburn-Steveskey.

So now it is on to the waiting game, where the Pride's patience will be tested as it finds out its fate to see if there will be more basketball to play this season in the Women's National Invitational Tournament (WNIT).

"That's the first thing I said to this team," said Kilburn-Steveskey. "I'm not going to kick anyone to the curb, people that have given me five years in this program [referencing senior guard Candice Bellocchio]."

Hofstra last made the WNIT in 2010 where it reached the second round, beating Penn State, before losing to VCU.

"Hopefully we'll have basketball to play, we don't make that decision," said Kilburn-Steveskey. "We have to control what we can control."

Playing in her final CAA Championships, Bellocchio stoically awaited questions after her team was knocked from conference title contention, but remained positive.

"Absolutely [there is more basketball to be played]," said Bellocchio. "I'm just so disappointed that we did not get to our ultimate goal. Looking ahead, yes, there is definitely a lot of basketball to be played."

If Kilburn-Steveskey's squad is given a second chance and a berth into the WNIT, she has a certain standard of performance for her team.

"I promise you one thing. This will be fixed," said Kilburn-Steveskey. "I know how to start to do that. That is a promise that I'll go on record for right now."

Hofstra head coach Krista Kilburn-Steveskey walks off the court following her team's 94-87 loss to UNC-W. (Cody Heintz/The Chronicle)

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