Story by Matty Wasserman
Photos by Sarah Olender
BOSTON – After back-to-back road losses against Drexel University and the University of Delaware, the Huskies returned to their winning ways at the Cabot Center on Friday, defeating the Elon Phoenix 68-52.
Northeastern’s leading scorer Kendall Currence stole the show with 20 points, shooting an efficient 9-14 from the field and slicing through the Elon defense with her signature mid-range pull-up game. But the Huskies received contributions throughout the lineup, with four Northeastern players scoring in double figures.
“I thought that everybody really came in and brought what they bring tonight, whether that was rebounding, defense, or the ability to score,” Northeastern head coach Bridgette Mitchell said following the win. “I thought we did a really nice job tonight.”
The bounce-back performance extended to the glass, where the Huskies outrebounded the Phoenix 38-29 and pulled in 15 offensive rebounds. With Northeastern’s best rebounder Donna Ntambue out of the lineup for extended time due to injury, it’s been incumbent on Northeastern’s bigs to step up and maintain a physical presence on the interior. Forward Asha Parker had six hard-earned boards in 18 minutes, and big Emily Calabrese battled hard with a sizable Elon lineup all night.
“I thought that Asha [Parker], Layla [Ozturk], and Emily [Calabrese] were intent on crashing the boards, we even had our guards get in there,” Mitchell said. “I thought that their presence when we did go to zone was able to disrupt some things.”
Northeastern started the game on a 9-0 run and was propelled early on by some hot shooting from senior sharpshooter Katie May. Elon clawed back in the first half on the strength of senior guard Brie Perpignan, who’s explosive north-south offensive game got her into the teeth of the Northeastern defense with ease. She scored 17 of her 19 points in the first half, and caused significant problems early for the Huskies defense.
Northeastern began to pull away from the Phoenix at the end of the third quarter. Currence’s and-one and Gemima Motema’s buzzer-beating layup in the period’s final 0:29 put the Huskies up seven points, a deficit that proved to be insurmountable for a struggling Elon offense.
“It was awesome. I didn’t even realize in the moment what that run meant,” Mitchell said. “I looked at the score and I was like ‘oh my goodness.”
Motema, the talented freshman guard, was lethal in transition all night. It’s nights like Friday where the potential for Motema’s all-around game – the ability to crash the defensive glass, take it coast to coast, knife inside the defense, and find open shooters in tight windows – comes into full focus. She finished with 10 points, four rebounds, and three assists in 28 minutes.
“It was exciting to see G really take off in transition, that’s where she thrives, she didn’t finish very well to start, and then she just took off at the end of that game,” Michell said.
Northeastern improves to 9-6 overall and 3-2 in conference play with the win. The Huskies remain undefeated at the Cabot Center this season, and will look to continue dominating on their home floor in a Sunday matinee against conference foe William & Mary. Mike Puzzanghera and Catherine Morrison have the call for WRBB Sports at 12 p.m.