By Joe Fay -- STAFF WRITER The Hofstra women’s basketball team fell to the Northeastern Huskies Thursday night in the CAA quarterfinal round, 65-54, ending the Pride’s season. A late comeback effort was not enough to overcome the deficit, which swelled to 28 early in the third quarter.
Hofstra came into this game as the clear favorites. The Pride was the third-seed facing a sixth-seeded Northeastern team that Hofstra defeated twice during the course of the regular season. Right from the tipoff, it was clear this game was not going to go as expected. Northeastern was a hot team coming into the tournament, posing a challenge that Hofstra was not prepared for.
Hofstra looked out of sync and sloppy, missing shots and throwing the ball away too often. Halfway through the first quarter, Northeastern already held a double-digit advantage of 12-2. The Pride remained scoreless for five straight minutes and had five turnovers during that stretch.
Hofstra Coach Krista Kilburn-Steveskey described the team’s start as “not what was intended [and] uncharacteristic.”
However, signs of life began to show near the end of the first quarter, with Hofstra hitting all three of its final shots in the period. Yet with Northeastern hitting five of their seven three-pointers in the quarter, Hofstra’s deficit had grown to 27-9.
Early foul trouble also plagued the Pride, with Anjie White picking up her third personal foul just one minute into the second quarter. At that point Hofstra already had 10 team fouls while Northeastern had only one.
The troubles continued through the second quarter for the Pride. Hofstra shot merely 28 percent in the first half from the field with 13 turnovers, five of which came from Krystal Luciano.
Luciano, who is one of the Pride’s most reliable pieces, struggled in the first half. She managed just five points, chucking up deep three pointers in desperation as Hofstra watched the game slip away.
The Pride continued to commit careless turnovers, giving away precious possessions while Northeastern shot 59 percent from the field to take a commanding 42-18 lead into the half.
Hofstra, down but not yet out, began the second half hoping to flip the script. After getting just one of their six shots to fall in the start of the third quarter, the Pride only began to make their run as the third quarter waned. Angie White began the burst with two layups.
Then, solid work at the free throw line by Aleana Leon and Darius Faulk gave Hofstra a spark, one the team had been searching for the entire game. This 7-0 run cut the Huskie lead to 54-35 heading into the fourth quarter.
Faulk continued her mastery at the line, hitting nine of ten free throws in the game. Ashunae Durant, who notched a double-double in the loss, also had a hand in the comeback efforts, hitting both free throws and layups to trim away at the lead.
A Durant layup with 3:39 remaining pulled Hofstra within 11 points, keeping the Pride’s hope of a miracle alive. The teams then began a back and forth exchange that stalled the comeback, until Durant hit a three-pointer with 43 seconds left in regulation.
The shot cut the lead to nine, 63-54, but it was too little too late. Northeastern went to the free throw line, and sealed the game with the help of Hofstra’s nineteenth turnover.
Durant tallied 17 points for the Pride to go with her 10 rebounds, while Faulk had 13 points. Despite these two bright spots in the box score, Hofstra shot just 28 percent from the floor and 11 percent from the three-point line.
The 65-54 victory over the Pride was not the outcome most people expected, but Northeastern pulled off the upset and punched a ticket to its first CAA semifinal game. Hofstra, on the other hand, headed home until next season, contemplating what went wrong for a team who was expected to make a run at the championship.
Coach Kilburn-Steveskey said the team “just ran out of time,” and she was proud of the “crew that [she] stuck with who cut it to ten.”
Durant stepped up and led the comeback effort, showing her strength as a leader of this team in years to come. She said that this was a game that the team will “learn from…and come back stronger next year,” giving Hofstra fans hope for the future.
Hofstra will wait until Monday evening to see whether it will be invited to its second straight Women's National Invitational Tournament (WNIT).