It started and ended slow for Northeastern women’s basketball on Sunday.
In their first game in 12 days, in front of zero fans in the newly-restricted unfamiliar home confines of Matthews Arena, the Huskies couldn’t get shots to fall and struggled mightily to contain Harvard’s potent offense, falling to the Crimson 75-43.
From the tip, Harvard (4-6) was all over Northeastern (6-4). Harvard’s Lola Mullaney and Harmoni Turner each scored in double-figures in the first quarter, a period capped off by a Turner three at the buzzer. The pair ended with 21 and 19 points respectively, with Turner adding 12 rebounds. They dominated Northeastern both on the interior and the perimeter, with both knocking down three triples and Mullaney shooting 9-of-13 from the field.
“Harvard shot the ball really well,” Northeastern head coach Bridgette Mitchell said. “They’re a really competitive team, they move the ball exceptionally well, and then they hit shots. Our defense wasn’t our best tonight after having those days off and getting through finals. It’s not an excuse for us, but I don’t think that we played our best defensive game today.”
The Huskies trailed by 11 after one and 17 at the half. Kendall Currence and Gemima Motema did their part on the offensive end for Northeastern, both scoring 11. But the Huskies struggled defensively and with other key players either out or unable to find a rhythm, it was all downhill for Northeastern. Mitchell acknowledged that Northeastern struggled to take advantage of mismatches on the offensive end throughout the game.
“They switch one through five, and then we had opportunities for our smaller guards and then just clogging the paint,” Mitchell said. “They held us to about 20 paint points and that’s not where we average, so they definitely were able to disrupt us a bit.”
One of those key players the Huskies were missing was Donna Ntambue, Northeastern’s leading rebounder and a defensive force. Though Northeastern did win the rebounding battle by 2, her absence was noticeable on the defensive end, especially against Turner.
Mullaney and Turner continued to knock down shots for Harvard at the start of the second half, as did Annie Stritzel, who added nine fourth-quarter points for the Crimson.
With Claudia Soriano and Katie May struggling from the field, Northeastern was unable to put together a run for long enough to get back into the game. It seemed like every time the Huskies got momentum, they would turn the ball over the next possession and Harvard would go down and score. The Huskies tied a season high with 26 turnovers.
A small bright spot for Northeastern was theseason debut for Maddie Vizza. The sharpshooting sophomore missed NU’s first nine games with an injury, but played 10 minutes in a supportive role Sunday. True to form, she knocked down two threes to finish with six points.
The Huskies take a long road trip up to Orono to face Maine on Wednesday in their final tune up before CAA play begins at the end of next week. WRBB’s Catherine Morrison will have the recap.