By Frank Aimetti, Gio Annatelli, & Mike Rudin - Staff Writers and Sports Editor These are the Women's Basketball away games. To read their home games, click here.
The early stretch of the 2014-15 season has been a roller coaster ride for head coach Krista Kilburn-Steveskey’s team. After a crushing overtime loss against Central Connecticut in their opener, the Pride seemed to take a half of play to return back to their usual form. A slow-paced, messy first half turned into an easy 66-53 win against Fairfield University as the Hofstra offense emerged from their slump in the second half.
Despite the momentum from Hofstra’s first win, the Pride lost 46-60 in the following matchup against the Fordham Rams, losing the first road game on the season. Then the Pride traveled to Virginia on Sunday to defeat the Norfolk State Spartans 64-67 for their first road win on the season that kept the Pride’s record at .500.
The Pride brought full-court pressure to start the Fairfield game but early foul trouble then slowed Hofstra with star Center Elo Edeferioka suffering two early fouls and threw the Pride off to gain any sort of rhythm on either side of the ball. Both teams looked to push the pace after rebounds and misses, but turnovers plagued Fairfield along with numerous traveling calls starting the game off at a choppy pace.
Dee Thomas-Palmer took over for Edeferioka and she thrived. Palmer displayed her diverse skillset by hitting a three-pointer, battling down low for rebounds and second-chance points, and anchoring the defense on the other side of the floor forcing numerous Fairfield players to adjust their shots for fear of getting blocked. Although Thomas-Palmer recorded only one official block, her interior defense changed Fairfield’s plan of forcing the ball inside. Her final line was 8 points, 2 rebounds and a block, but her impact showed far beyond the stat sheet.
Hofstra held the lead for nearly the entire first half, but they were unable to put any distance between themselves and Fairfield, with the Stags displaying impressive hustle to stay in the game. Freshman guard Ashunae Durant handled the brunt of the scoring load in the first half. The Pride lead shrunk to 30-27 at the half with a lack of ball movement and stagnation hurting the Pride offense. Fairfield did a great job of walling off the paint and forcing Hofstra to take tough, contested jump shots late in the shot clock.
“We had some stagnant moments but we just hung tough with it and tried to get the right people the right shots at the right time,” said Coach Krista Kilburn-Stevesky after the game.
The Pride looked energized and organized from the start of the second half, a vast improvement from how they started the game. Guard Kelly Loftus hit two early threes, shots created by quality ball movement. Loftus finished with 14 points.
“I just had to get my confidence back after missing that many shots and you know, I was in the gym for two hours before the game so I just had to get my rhythm back and hitting that first shot really gave me confidence to knock down the next one,” said Kelly Loftus after she came off a 3-14 shooting night in the season opener.
With Elo Edeferioka back in the game after significant foul trouble in the first half, she was able to show her diverse skillset. Her post-ups on offense drew double teams in which she was able to make the right pass to the open player. This resulted in a scrambling Fairfield defense and opened up the game for the Pride. Edeferioka finished with 8 points, 5 rebounds, and 3 assists in what was essentially only one half of basketball due to foul problems.
Point guard Krystal Luciano found her rhythm in the second half as well, she managed the game better both through her passing and scoring and finished with a well-rounded line of 7 points, 6 assists, and 6 rebounds. Her three-pointer with 7:15 to go broke the game open, giving Hofstra a 57-41 lead and was essentially the dagger to Fairfield’s hopes of winning.
The win provided a major morale boost as the Pride traveled to the Bronx for their first road game against the Fordham Rams.
Hofstra’s rookie Ashunae Durant continues to make strides and great impressions after she led the Pride offense with 13 points in the game despite the loss. Elo Edeferioka continued to be one of the top scorers for the Pride, shooting 12 points in the game. Yet the Fordham Rams shot more accurately than the pride in all three main categories: 2-pointers, 3-pointers, and free throws. The Pride struggled mightily shooting outside the arc 1 for 10 in the game while Fordham made 6 of 12 shot with of their 3-pointers.
“We shot so poorly,” said head coach Krista Kilburn-Steveskey. “We knew it was going to be a battle when it was obviously a little frustrating not to be able to respond.”
Hofstra competed and kept up with Fordham until the Rams went on a 9-2 run by the 4:11 mark in the first half. The run ultimately put Hofstra down 29-21 going into the second half. Then in the first 29 seconds, the Rams extend their lead to ten after back-to-back free throws made by Emily Tapio off a Krystal Luciano foul. After Elo made a layup to cut the lead to eight with 19:20 left, Fordham becomes unstoppable with a 9-0 run. The rams took a 17-point lead by the 16:49 mark.
The Pride couldn’t get a rhythm going at all against the Rams they took a 19-point lead with 10:36 left in regulation. It took Hofstra over 10 minutes to cut the lead down to 12 but with 10 seconds left, Fordham scored one more time to keep the win with 14 points to spare.
Hofstra was outshot 22-32 points in the paint and 11-19 points coming off the bench. “We don’t take this loss easy, we just got to keep growing from it,” said Kilburn-Steveskey. “This group is ready to go, they’re ready to bounce back.”
Those words showed as the Pride controlled nearly every minute of the game against Northfolk State University by leading for 38:45 minutes, only falling behind for just 1:15.
“It’s just great to get a road win, it just doesn’t really matter, you guys know how hard they are to come by,” said Krista Kilburn-Steveskey.
Hofstra was a force on defense, not allowing a single three-pointer to go in for the Norfolk State Spartans. The Pride also held NSU’s Rae Corbo to nine points on two-of-fifteen shooting. “I was just really proud of that whole defensive effort,” said Kilburn-Steveskey.
Corbo came into the game averaging 21.7 points and had scored 18 or more points in the first three games. The Pride held Norfolk State to 30.5 percent shooting from the field.
Kelly Loftus had a memorable night, scoring a career-high 15 points in her home state of Virginia. Kilburn-Steveskey remarked on the potential with Loftus. “Our guards got to continue to step it up and [Loftus] is one that is capable of doing it very well,” Said Kilburn-Steveskey. “[Loftus] was pretty fired up today and definitely wanted to start getting up some consistency with her play because she’s talented enough to bring this to us every night.”
Elo Edeferioka excelled in both the scoring and rebounding department, she shot 16 points and 15 rebounds for her second double-double in the first four games of the season.
Hofstra started the game out hot, jumping out to a 9-2 lead early on. By the 12:39 mark, the Pride went on a 11-4 run with 6:26 left in the first half to take a ten point lead, all in part of Loftus catching fire scoring eight points in the first half. NSU mounted a comeback and brought the deficit to within four, Hofstra led 30-26 at the end of the half.
During a couple timeouts, Kilburn-Steveskey had to calm her players down a bit, “Take a deep breathe, don’t panic, quit being too geared up, just handle yourself and do what we do and take care business,” said Kilburn-Steveskey.
The Pride took control in the second half courtesy of Dee Thomas-Palmer, Kelly Loftus, and Darius Faulk. A transfer from West Virginia, Faulk shot six points in her Hofstra debut, one of her layups came in the last 1:23 that extended the lead to 62-47. Hofstra drained out the remainder of the clock and maintained their double-digit lead.