By Mike Rudin - SPORTS EDITOR
Hofstra women’s basketball finished the 2013-2014 season at 14-15 with an 8-8 record in the Colonial Athletic Association conference. The team finished in fifth place last year and recently, Hofstra was ranked fourth in the CAA preseason polls.
The Pride lost last year’s graduating seniors Anma Onyeuku and Annie Payton, both of whom led Hofstra in scoring last year. Onyeuku placed 15th in scoring among CAA players, and Payton placed 16th.
Ruth Sherrill was another key loss, the 6-foot forward transferred to Temple University after the 2013-2014 season. She came in 10th place last year in the CAA in blocked shots with 18.
The team now contains a squad of players with youth and potential under the experienced leadership of Krista Kilburn-Steveskey, heading into her ninth season as Hofstra’s head coach.
The squad is divided between five juniors, five sophomores and four freshmen. Although the team does not have a single senior this year, the Pride is under the helm of several juniors and sophomores. Hofstra has three starters returning from last year as the foundation of the team.
Sophomore forward Elo Edeferioka displayed her talent last year for the Pride, leading the team on the boards with 214 rebounds on the season. Edeferioka finished in eighth place in rebounding in the CAA conference. Her 87 offensive rebounds, 127 defensive rebounds and 6.3 points scored per game, as well as her overall performance earned her a spot on the CAA-all rookie team last year.
Edeferioka’s impressive defensive play on rebounds as well as her 25 blocks last year will be a key component for the upcoming season. Edeferioka continues to make a name for herself, receiving a spot on the 2014 CAA Preseason Team.
Sophomore guard Krystal Luciano provided a spark to last year’s team with her speed and fast-paced ball movement. Luciano led the 2013 team in assists with 98, averaging 3.4 assists a game and placed seventh among CAA players. Her ball control last year showed that she can compete among the best in the conference with a 98-90 assist/turnover ratio, placing her ninth in the CAA category.
Luciano started in 21 games last year, shooting 5.6 points a game and put up a .398 shooting percentage on the year, ranking her fourth best on the team. Luciano put up 30 steals last season and her skills and talent will provide a unique dynamic to the Pride offense.
Junior guard Asia Jackson will split the scoring numbers as she averaged 7.6 points a game. Jackson placed third on the team with 213 total points in scoring last year. She was second best on the team in shooting three-pointers and free throws, with 26 and 63 in 2013, respectively. Jackson will provide great support on the offensive front along with Luciano.
The three Pride players saw the most playing time, placing in the top five for game time. Luciano led the team with 740 minutes, Jackson placed fourth with 661 minutes and Edeferioka placed fifth with 578 minutes.
Sophomore guard Kelly Loftus and guard Junior Sydney Epps each got playing time for majority of the season, Loftus with nine starts and 25 total appearances, while Epps made one start and played in all 29 games.
Loftus has performed well against CAA competitors, compiling career-high numbers against the Drexel Dragons, scoring 14 points and putting up 10 rebounds.
She scored eight points against UNCW on Jan. 31 last season. Loftus played an average of 18.1 minutes a game.
The third-year guard, Epps, shot a .750 free throw percentage last year as well as a .321 shooting percentage from the three-point line. Epps placed fourth on the team in rebounds with 88 in the 2013-2014 season. She played 10.5 minutes per game last season.
Two new additions to the 2014-2015 roster – guard Darius Faulk, center Sandra Dongmo and guard Stephania Oramas – will add depth and fill some of the holes on the Pride team.
Darius Faulk, a transfer from West Virginia, played 42 games in her college career, averaging 9.2 points a game in her sophomore year.
“She has tremendous speed and attacks the basket with ease. She is a versatile backcourt player and will see minutes at both the guard positions,” said Kilburn-Steveskey.
Maeva Dongmo adds depth to the team, the 6-foot-4 center red-shirted last year and did not play. “Her size, strength and mobility will add depth to an already strong frontcourt,” said Kilburn-Steveskey.
The season opener for the women’s basketball squad is on Nov. 14 at the Mack Sports Complex, starting at 6:00 p.m.