By Joe Fay -- STAFF WRITER This coming weekend the Hofstra women’s basketball team will have their shot at the CAA Championship. The team will travel to Upper Marlboro, Maryland, and face some tough conference competition. This year’s Hofstra team is a solid group, but the road to the CAA championship is tough. The Pride enters the tournament as the No. 3 seed and will face sixth-seeded Northeastern at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday evening.
Hofstra ended the regular season with a three-game winning streak, including convincing wins over No. 2 seed Drexel and the same Northeastern team they will face in the quarterfinals. The win over Drexel near the end of the season will give Hofstra confidence going into the tournament should they meet again.
With a 13-5 conference record this season, the Pride looks like it is ready to make a run at the title. Hofstra’s postseason success will be determined by how they play as a team. Everyone will need to be at their best for this team to have a shot at the title. When the team is firing on all cylinders, it’s a force to be reckoned with.
Senior Darius Faulk (5.1 APG) and junior Krystal Luciano (4.0 APG) will look to use their veteran presence to kick-start Hofstra’s offense each possession. Using their court vision and passing abilities, they will be looking to get Kelly Loftus (13.0 PPG) and Ashunae Durant (11.4 PPG) into the flow of the offense early in games.
Contributions from the bench will be key to grabbing wins in this weekend’s tournament for the Pride. If Hofstra can keep their starters rested by getting production from bench sparks like Asia Jackson (17.6 MPG) and Jakelle King-Gilchrist (12.9 MPG), they can maintain competition at a high level. If the Pride tries to rely on just a few players, it will have nothing left late in the weekend to try and compete in the Championship round. The effort as a team will drive the Pride to success.
Hofstra will also need to play both sides of the ball. The team needs to continue its strength in the defensive end. During the regular season, the Pride held its opponents to just 55.9 points per game – third-best in the CAA – on 36 percent from the field and 27 percent from the arc. The quick hands of Faulk and Anjie White’s rim protecting will take possessions away from opponents.
The Pride will need to be at top form to get through three different teams and 120 minutes of regulation in a span of three days. Hofstra cannot afford to slip up against a lower seed such as Northeastern or Delaware, to whom it lost to on Feb. 21. If the Pride reaches the championship game there is a good chance it will face the top-seeded James Madison Dukes who beat Hofstra both times they played during the regular season.
The road ahead is tough, but the Pride is ready for a challenge. Starting Thursday night against Northeastern, Hofstra will look to make its run towards the CAA Championship. If Hofstra can beat the odds and come out on top, it will notch a ticket to the NCAA tournament later in March.