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Hofstra slides by Villanova to advance in WNIT

By Kevin Carroll -- SPORTS EDITOR The Hofstra women’s basketball team continued its run in the WNIT, riding a game-high 22 points from Jakelle King-Gilchrist to a 82-74 victory over the Villanova Wildcats in Saturday’s second round contest at the Pavilion in Philadelphia.

The Pride took the court for the first time all season without leading rebounder Ashunae Durant, who left Thursday’s win over Harvard with an injury in the the second half. The Pride also were without the services of Asia Jackson, and Kelly Loftus and Krystal Luciano started the game on the bench for the Pride.

“What a great team, what a collective win,” said Hofstra head coach Krista Kilburn-Steveskey after the win. “We had a remarkable game.”

But, as has been the case these last few weeks, the Pride found more than enough production from the players it did have. Darius Faulk had another solid game at the point, scoring 15 points, and adding eight assists and seven rebounds.

A back-and-forth contest broke open in the fourth quarter, as Hofstra entered the quarter down by a point, and in danger of losing its grip on the game. However, the Pride responded by outscoring the Wildcats 29-20 in the final frame.

It was King-Gilchrist, a senior guard inserted into the starting lineup after injuries to Loftus and Jackson, who got the ball rolling for the Pride, opening up the scoring in the final quarter by hitting a jumper, putting the Pride in front 55-54.

Anjie White would tack on a layup to put the Pride ahead by three, and then, after a Wildcat layup to shrink the lead back to just a point, King-Gilchrist answered big-time for the Pride.

She knocked down a huge three-pointer, making it a 60-56 Pride lead with just under seven minutes to play. Villanova missed on a three-pointer down at the other end, and King-Gilchrist struck again, connecting on another deep ball to give Hofstra its biggest lead of the half, 63-56.

“I was debating whether to call timeout or not, and then she [King-Gilchrist] stepped up and hit those back-to-back threes,” said Kilburn-Steveskey.

With some desperately-needed breathing room, the Pride began to pull away from the Wildcats, who could only go basket-for-basket down with Hofstra down the stretch. That wouldn’t be enough, as Hofstra held the Wildcats down the stretch, and knocking off Villanova on its own home floor, where the Wildcats had only lost three times this season.

Only two of the players in Hofstra’s starting lineup had been there at the beginning of the season, Anjie White and Darius Faulk. The other three spots were filled by King-Gilchrist, Aleana Leon, and Olivia Askin, making her first start in a Hofstra uniform.

Hofstra attempted to hit Villanova with the same punch that it hit Harvard with coming out to start the game. The Pride held the Nova offense in check for most of the first quarter, with the three-point shots that the Wildcats love to take refusing to fall.

The Pride led 17-6 with just over two minutes remaining in the opening quarter, but a pair of Wildcat triples from Katherine Coyer and Adrianna Hahn brought the score to 19-12, and until the fourth quarter, Hofstra’s lead would never grow beyond seven points.

Hahn, the Wildcat’s top three-point shooter this season, started to heat up from deep, knocking down three triples in the second quarter alone to keep the Wildcats within striking distance. She would finish with 18 points, second on her team only to the 21 points from Coyer.

Villanova ends its season with a record of 20-12.

Anjie White added 14 points and seven rebounds for the Pride, despite being in foul trouble for most of the fourth quarter. Kelly Loftus had 11 points off the bench in her first game action since the CAA quarterfinals.

“I talked to her [Kelly] before the game, told her to whatever she thinks she could do, and she played 27 minutes,” said Kilburn-Steveskey.

The Pride will have to wait until tomorrow to find out who its next opponent. The winner of tomorrow’s contest between Rutgers University and the University of Virginia will advance to play Hofstra in the third round of the WNIT. Game time and location will be determined at a later date, but Kilburn-Steveskey doesn’t seem to be too worried.

“The sky’s the limit…we’re just having a great time right now.”

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