Story by Rae Deer
After a 2-0 start to conference play, the Northeastern women’s basketball team has finally met their match. A strong second half push after a sluggish start was not enough to save the Huskies from falling to reigning CAA champions, Drexel University, 63-50 on Friday night.
Drexel played up and down the court from the beginning. The Dragons handled themselves well down low and pushed hard through a tired looking Husky defense. They drew blood first and kept the points rolling, as Drexel guards Keishana Washington and Hannah Nihill showed their skill off the bat. Northeastern was also having issues locking down forwards Tessa Brugler and Kate Connolly, who played hard in the paint.
It was an uncharacteristically off night for senior star guard Kendall Currence, who didn’t generate as much as usual on the scoresheet, leaving others to step up. Freshman phenom Claudia Soriano gladly picked up the slack, scoring 20 points on the night.
The first half went by slowly for the Huskies. Despite keeping up with the Dragons scorewise, it was evident they were having issues on offense. Both teams traded baskets for most of the first quarter, but a Drexel 7-0 run gave the Dragons the edge. While they kept Drexel to a single digit lead with their field goals, perimeter shots were not on their side. They were 2-10 in the first half, with the two lone baskets landed by Soriano and forward Katie May. And though they had several good looks, the baskets simply weren’t falling and messy turnovers gave Drexel multiple chances to turn the game into a runaway. The Dragons notched 19 points off of Husky turnovers, however, Drexel also made similar turnovers, allowing the Huskies to keep the game within reach.
Another aspect that kept Northeastern alive was that they had strong players fighting under the rim for rebounds. Katie May, who had a second best 11 points, shined with five defensive boards. Currence, Leyla Öztürk, and Izzy Larsen each had three offensive rebounds (with the latter two also earning two defensive rebounds) while Century McCartney had a team-high seven rebounds (two on offense and five on defense) for a team total of 34 rebounds in the contest.
The second half was like a reemergence for the Huskies. By the beginning of the third quarter, Drexel had taken a double digit lead and were pulling the game from their fingers. But, after Calabrese got hit in the face trying to defend a shot from Drexel’s Brugler, the Huskies locked in. Whether it was revenge or simply a wake up call, the game got more physical and Northeastern came alive. Each player looked like they had a lot more energy and they played a lot grittier and full of spark.
The Huskies deployed a stellar defense on the Dragons, held them without a field goal for six minutes, and chipped their lead back down to single digits. But Drexel held on through free throws, tallying six points in that stretch.
The fourth quarter was the final push and the Huskies battled. They knocked Drexel’s lead down to five on several occasions and were so close to pulling things in their favor. But, they slipped right when they could’ve stolen it back. Drexel went on an 8-0 run with three minutes left and there was not much else that could be done.
Northeastern has one more game on the road before they’re back in Boston. They face the University of Delaware on Sunday afternoon. WRBB’s Mike Puzzanghera will have the recap.