By Mike Puzzanghera

Anytime a team opens a season with a 9-0 scoring run, it’s a good sign. To do so under a new head coach and revamped staff on the road is an even more impressive feat. That’s what Northeastern women’s basketball put together in the first quarter at Holy Cross Wednesday night, jumping out to the lead straight from the opening tip and never relinquishing it, sinking the Crusaders on their home floor, 71-45.

New Northeastern head coach Bridgette Mitchell’s tenure got off to a rocking start, as Kendall Currence immediately found Claudia Soriano cutting into the lane five seconds into the new season, and she laid it up and in. Those five seconds would be the only time all game the Huskies didn’t hold the lead. They stormed out to an early 9-0 advantage, and a 17-9 lead at the end of the first quarter thanks in part to the defense forcing nine Holy Cross turnovers.

Sophomore Donna Ntambue — who transferred from Utah — came out of the gates hot in her first game in a Northeastern uniform, connecting for seven points in the first quarter en-route to a game-high 19 points.

The Crusaders tested the Huskies a bit more in the second quarter, with Janelle Allen scoring five of her seven points for Holy Cross. The two teams were much more even (Holy Cross won the quarter, 14-13), with Holy Cross holding a one-rebound edge and committing one fewer turnover in the quarter.

Northeastern kicked the doors to the Hart Center down in the second half, outscoring Holy Cross, 41-22. NU’s Katie May connected for 11 points in the second half (including three of her four 3-pointers), shining in her first game back since missing last year to injury. She finished with 15 points and a team-high six rebounds.

Soriano also made her mark in the second half with eight of her 12 points. The freshman hit 5 of 9 shots from the field, dished out a game-high six assists, and picked up three steals in 29 minutes of action. Soriano ran the point for the Northeastern offense when she was on the floor, but she also made her presence felt off the ball, with good movement and cuts throughout the game.

But the real star of the night was Ntambue. She was electric with the ball in her hands, using her speed to beat defenders off the dribble, while showing off her range with two threes. She hit 7-of-11 shots from the field and added three more from the charity stripe in a strong Northeastern debut.

Defensively, Northeastern’s biggest task was shutting down Holy Cross star Avery LaBarbera. The preseason Patriot League all-conference member had a strong game, hitting 5-of-10 shots for 12 points while grabbing seven rebounds, but she also turned the ball over five times under the pressure of the stifling Northeastern 2-3 zone defense. As a team, Northeastern forced 25 turnovers, led by Currence’s five steals.

The Huskies hit the road again to face Yale Friday night before hosting UNH in their home opener next Wednesday.

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