Story by Peyton Doyle
Photos by Sarah Olender
The Northeastern Huskies continued their undefeated start at home this season in their clash against the Boston University Terriers in the early hours of Wednesday morning.
These crosstown rivals each entered the game with high-powered offenses, but the 11 a.m. tip off might have left their shooting rather sleepy as both teams struggled to get much going offensively during long stretches in the 53-45 Northeastern victory. The matchup saw both teams struggle mightily from deep, combining to go 6-36 from beyond the 3 point line.
Coming into this game Northeastern has struggled when it comes to shooting, but BU entered as a very accurate team, especially from deep. The team is coming off a program-record 65.3% from the field against Harvard. Star guard Sydney Johnson was a particularly dangerous player coming into this game for the Terriers. Johnson entered averaging 15 points on a 49/67/82 shooting line.
However, Northeastern’s own star scorer, Kendall Currence had no fear of Johnson or anyone else coming into this matchup.
“They’re a pretty good team. I respect them. But we’re not scared of them,” Currence said. “We’re not scared of anybody, and I think we showed that.”
Currence’s courage shined in this one, as the senior guard led Northeastern with 15 points in her 39 minutes of play while adding three rebounds, three assists, and two steals. Currence and the rest of the Huskies’ perimeter defenders also did their part to slow down the Terrier offense, allowing just 15 points in the second and third quarters combined and holding Johnson to just 11 points on 4-14 shooting from the floor.
The onus was not just on Johnson’s shoulders however as she got very little help from her teammates. The only Terrier to hit a triple in the first 39 minutes was Riley Childs, who had three in the game, before Liz Shean hit one in garbage time. The other guards, Maggie Pina and Emily Esposito combined to go 0-8 from deep and scored just six points together after coming in averaging a combined 14 points.
It was on the interior that BU was initially causing problems for Northeastern as they used the size of their forwards Maren Durant and Riley Childs to smother Northeastern drives and hold down the paint.
As the game went on however, the Huskies began to find their success down low with Emily Calbrese post moves and vicious drives from the electrifying Donna Ntambue.
Northeastern’s best player in terms of plus/minus and interior play was somewhat of a surprise. Leyla Ozturk, the Beast of Berlin, used every bit of her massive wingspan to grab rebounds for her teammates and find open shooters. Ozturk, who has had her minutes fluctuate so far this season, scored just two points but added two assists and a career high five offensive rebounds in her 18 minutes of play.
Even head coach Bridgette Mitchell did not necessarily anticipate this output from Ozturk but acknowledged that that versatility is the strength of her team.
“That’s the dangerous part about our team, you never know who will contribute,” Mitchell said. “We have a lot of weapons and Leyla drew hers tonight and that was really awesome to see from her today.”
The extra contributions were key for Northeastern in this one as the stout defense of BU held several of their star players in check. The Huskies’ super spaniard, Claudia Soriano, was rather quiet on the offensive side of the ball most of the game, taking just four shots and giving up five turnovers. The defensive pressure was high from both teams throughout the matchup.
“I think the defense caused a lot of frustration on both ends for each team,” Mitchell said. “We wanted to be in attack mode and our defense always gets us going and so we got a lot of confidence from our ability to do that.”
Currence echoed her coach when it came to her team’s use of the full court press and how it helped them seal their victory as the game winded down.
“[Our mindset is] to scare them, trip them up a little bit,” Currence said. “They had a few turnovers, they didn’t know what to do. I think it was really effective.”
Tough defense as well as just enough offense kept the Huskies undefeated at home and has them sitting at 5-2 in non-conference play. The next test for coach Mitchell and Northeastern will come in two games on the road as they take on Hartford on Sunday, Dec. 5 and Quinnipiac Tuesday, Dec. 7.