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Defense reigns supreme as Hofstra topples William & Mary

By Kevin Carroll -- SPORTS EDITOR In front of an exuberant crowd of local youngsters gathered for Health and Fitness Education Day, the Hofstra women’s basketball smothered a very potent College of William & Mary offense, holding them to a season-low point total en route to a 65-54 victory on Friday afternoon.

“I’m just really proud of our effort and our defensive mindset today,” said Hofstra head coach Krista Kilburn-Steveskey after the game.

On paper, this matchup looked to be a clash of styles: William & Mary’s high-powered offense, averaging over 73 points per game with four starters averaging double-digit scoring numbers, going up against a Hofstra team that plays a much more aggressive defensive style of basketball.

Defense won out on Friday afternoon, as the Pride kept William & Mary off-balance and uncomfortable all game long. Hofstra forced 18 turnovers and kept the Tribe’s shooters from getting too many open looks. William & Mary’s 54 attempted field goals and 12 attempted three-pointers both rank as some of the lowest totals the Tribe have posted this season.

In particular, Hofstra was able to neutralize some of the Tribe’s biggest threats offensively. Bianca Boggs had 15 points, but shot less than 50 percent from the floor and had seven turnovers. Preseason All-CAA second teamer Abby Rendle was held in check all afternoon by the stout defense of Marianne Kalin, only scoring five points on 2-9 shooting.

“Marianne knew this was a huge task, and she did not back down,” Kilburn-Steveskey said.

What was crucial about Hofstra’s success on defense was the team’s ability to turn it into offense. The Pride scored 23 points off of those 18 forced turnovers, and added a couple baskets off of fast break opportunities created by getting stops, and getting out in transition.

That transition started with the help of point guard Boogie Brozoski, who has been playing some sensational basketball since becoming eligible back in December. Today was no different, as the junior had 12 points, six rebounds and six assists.

“Boogs has been playing like a rock star,” Kilburn-Steveskey said.

“I was able to take care of the ball more,” Brozoski added. “When we move the ball, we end up scoring…good things happen out of it.”

The Pride’s biggest offensive performance of the day belonged to senior Aleana Leon. She knocked down her first four shots from the floor, and had 17 points through three quarters on her way to a 19-point, eight-rebound performance.

“Boogie was giving me the ball, and I just kept shooting,” Leon said.

In addition to Brozoski and Leon, Kalin and Ashunae Durant also scored in double-figures on Friday.

Kalin had 11 points and eight rebounds, while Durant notched her sixth double-double of the season with 15 points and 10 rebounds.

The Pride were aided throughout the contest by a crowd of 2,262 screaming fans, the biggest crowd for a home women’s basketball this season. In fact, the other eight home games combined only drew a total of 2,785 fans. This drastic change was noted by both Kilburn-Steveskey and her players.

“We’re not used to it,” Leon said. “Once you hear them [the fans] screaming, then you feel that energy.

“That energy is great,” Brozoski added. “You want to win for them.”

“We would love to have much more of this type of environment,” Kilburn-Steveskey said. “That’s always been a little bit of a thorn…we’d love to have people cheer for these guys, because they have so much to offer.”

With the win, Hofstra improves to 10-8 on the season with a 4-3 mark in CAA play, while William & Mary dropped to 12-5, and 3-3 in the conference.

The road ahead does not get any easier as Hofstra will welcome Drexel University on Saturday afternoon at 2 p.m.

The Dragons, always a perennial favorite in the CAA, defeated Hofstra 47-38 in their previous matchup this season, played back on New Year’s Eve.

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