By Mike RudinStaff Writer
UPPER MARLBORO, MD- Even though Hofstra found its way into its first CAA semi-final appearance since 2007, Delaware University defeated the Pride for the third straight time 75-54 on March 16th at The Show Place Arena.
“Well it’s definitely not the story book ending that we wanted today. We got beat by the better team though tonight,” said head coach Kilburn –Steveskey. “Delaware obviously is a well-oiled machine and they proved it tonight, they played very well against us. It was a tough loss.”
Delaware’s victory over Hofstra extended its winning streak to 24 games and advanced them to the finals against Drexel University.
The weekend started off promising as the fifth seeded Pride was able to get over the hump against fourth seeded Northeastern 57-52 in the CAA quarterfinals.
Hofstra rolled in determined to come out on top against a Northeastern side that it had lost to twice this season.
“It’s always a great contest playing Northeastern,” said Kilburn-Steveskey. “I’m incredibly proud of my team.” Sophomore guard Andreana Thomas, after a tough first half, led Hofstra with 15 points while also adding five rebounds and five assists.
“Look at the maturity of that, she didn’t have the best first half,” said Kilburn-Steveskey. “She was getting to the paint…I told her to keep doing what she was doing and that she was doing a great job.”
Northeastern had the better start, dominating the first half. Hofstra had its only lead of the opening 20 minutes when Annie Payton’s opening three-pointer gave the Pride a 3-0 lead 1:15 into the game.
Early foul trouble for senior forward Shante Evans put Hofstra at a disadvantage. Just four minutes into the game, Evans had picked up two fouls. She spent the rest of the half on the bench.
A’lece Mark was Northeastern’s leading scorer in the first half with nine points as she developed into a continuing problem for the Pride.
“We were a little bit star-struck in the first half,” said Kilburn-Steveskey. “We were playing hard but not necessarily our best.”
Senior forward Deven Green’s seven points helped ensure Hofstra remained within striking distance, going into halftime down 29-22.
Hofstra looked like a different team in the second half, surging its way to the lead in the first four minutes. With 16 points in the opening 6:30 of the second, Hofstra displayed a hustle and grit that began breaking Northeastern spirits.
“What we did in the second half and how they responded, that’s what we talked about in the locker room… We needed to wanted it more and they did it,” said Kilburn-Steveskey. “They really did it from the start of the second half where there was a loose ball, 50/50, going out of bounds and I have to give our team a lot of credit to really responding like that because that was the only difference from the first half to the second half.”
With the return of Evans, who went on to score six points and record 11 rebounds, Hofstra managed to make its way to the free throw line 22 times compared to just eight trips for Northeastern.
Where free throws have been problematic for Hofstra (it shot only 50% on the day), Thomas managed to ice the game at the line in the final 13 seconds.
Delaware’s victory over Hofstra in the CAA brought a dark cloud over the Pride since they knew it ended Shante Evans’ college career. The superstar player will now enter into the WNBA draft but her legacy at Hofstra will always remembered and honored.
Not too long ago, Shante Evans was the first Pride athlete to score 2,000 career points for women’s basketball in program history. Her name will be forever enshrined as one of Hofstra’s finest student athletes.
As for the game itself, The Blue Hens executed very well and killed any confidence the Pride possessed right before the game. Delaware’s own superstar, Elena Delle Donne, led Delaware in scoring with 21 total points.
The rest of the team also performed very well on offense; Trumae Lucas and Danielle Parker each had stellar performances with Lucas scoring 13 total points and Parker scoring 10 total points.
Delaware’s offense was on target against Hofstra and strived forward as the game went on. Its scoring percentage in the paint for the first half was 35.9% then stepped it up again in the second half with Delaware’s scoring percentage being 48.6% in the second half.
The X-factor to Delaware’s success against Hofstra was the rest of Delaware’s players managing to heavily produce and not just rely on a monstrous performance from Delle Donne; as well as its defense suffocating any chance for Hofstra to make a comeback.
One of the only bright spots for Hofstra during the game was Senior Forward Deven Green scoring 16 points in 18 minutes of playing time.
One major issue for both teams during the game was the amount of fouls; each team kept shooting themselves in the foot especially in the first period with a combined eighteen fouls. Hofstra was responsible for eleven of the eighteen in the first half.