Story by Rae Deer
HARTFORD, CT – Where there’s a rebound there’s a way. That could be seen as the motto for the triumph that the Northeastern women’s basketball team found against the University of Hartford Sunday afternoon. Drawing blood in the early moments of the game, they would proceed to dominate from the floor to hold a lead for the entirety of the game, reach a 20 point difference in the second half, and nab their third victory in a row, winning 73-53.
Superstar freshman Claudia Soriano, who has been averaging 11.7 points a game and ended Sunday with a 13 point game, started off the scoring with a smooth jumper just 20 seconds into the contest.
It was a slower start than usual for the Huskies though, as attempted shots from deep weren’t connecting and some messy turnovers were made in the earlier minutes. However, they quickly looked to their other strengths and found their rhythm under the basket. Senior Kendall Currence, who scored a game-leading 21 points, easily blew by the Hartford defense on multiple drives to the net, and forwards like Emily Calabrese and Asha Parker showed off how well Northeastern could battle through traffic down low. Northeastern ended the first half strong, going 47.1% from the field with a 14 point lead.
Hartford, however, visibly struggled from the field, going 21.9% in the first half. They had great passes and several good looks that couldn’t find the bottom of the basket. The Hawks found it even harder to shake the solid Husky defense that limited their shot capabilities and forced them to use tougher angles to the point where they couldn’t capitalize even on open opportunities. Despite playing an aggressive game and finding themselves down low often, they had nothing much to show for it. They also struggled to find a solution for the growing deficit behind the 3-point line, draining only four shots on 14 attempts in the first two quarters.
A key component of the Huskies’ dominance was their rebounding prowess. They were up and down the court, jumping high and battling hard. They struck gold on both ends, leading in both offensive and defensive rebounds during the entire contest. Sophomore Donna Ntambue shined as bright as a star once again in this regard, with a game-leading 11 rebounds.
The second half looked less bleak for the Hawks, as they got a tempo going and went on a 7-0 run in the third quarter. Soriano however, made sure to cut that one down a bit by draining the kind of three that she could probably make in her sleep.
The Huskies continued to look great defensively, yet found themselves in an unusual stat situation in the second half. They had yet to earn a single steal. The Spanish Swiper Soriano had three personal fouls by the end of the first half and therefore hesitated a bit more than normal to nab her superior stat. They kept their strengths in the other areas though, rebounding well, and excelling on the offensive.
Under the basket passes and clean cuts through the paint were Northeastern’s bread and butter this half, but originally only a few Huskies really had points to show. At the half, only five had points on the board, and the tally only went up by one in the third quarter. Many of the Huskies off the bench didn’t score, but had an impact with their stellar ball handling, great defense, and smooth ball movement.
In the last quarter however, every facet found its way. Soriano started to swipe again, more points came off the bench, particularly from freshman Gemima Motema who went on a tear in the final quarter as well as sophomore Izzy Larsen who drained her first career three, and the Huskies were dangerously close to tying a school record for most rebounds in a game.
The Hartford Hawks still put up a valiant effort in the second half, upping their 3-point percentage to 30.4% with great shots from Carmen Villalobos and Nayeli Dowding. They also attempted to find a spark down low as key players like Marisa Lee, Nina Farkic, and Jabria Ingram looked bright on the interior. They just couldn’t put things together quick enough to stop Northeastern from shutting them out completely. Basketball’s the name of the game and if the ball just isn’t going in the basket what more can one team do.
The Huskies have one last game on the road before heading home to halt Harvard. They’ll stay in Connecticut for a little while longer, taking on Quinnipiac Tuesday evening. WRBB will have written coverage on our website.