The starting quintet of Kendall Currence, Claudia Soriano, Katie May, Gemima Motema, and Emily Calabrese combined to score 60 of Northeastern’s 67 points Sunday afternoon, as the Huskies rolled to a 67-57 win over William & Mary at the Cabot Center.
It was a consistent, potent offense from the Huskies (10-6, 4-2 CAA). They only hit two threes, but they excelled in transition with 24 points off the Tribe’s 20 turnovers and 10 fastbreak points. They also dominated the Tribe (6-10, 1-4 CAA) on the interior, scoring 38 points in the paint and winning the rebounding battle, 26-22.
Northeastern took advantage of another strong game from Calabrese on the inside. She scored 15 points, her second-highest marker of the season. Calabrese also added eight rebounds and went 6-for-9 from the field.
“Emily is really opening things up for our guards,” said Northeastern head coach Bridgette Mitchell. “Kendall, G, Katie May, are all able to get these opportunities because Emily is finishing better in the post.”
Calabrese wasn’t the only one clicking with her shot for Northeastern, as Currence went 8-for-14 from the floor for a game-high 18 points. It was Currence’s third-straight game in double figures, and her 13th such performance in Northeastern’s 16 games.
Against a William & Mary team that loves to shoot from deep, the Huskies focused on rotation in their zone to shut the Tribe down. The CAA leader in three-point percentage, Tribe star Riley Casey went just 3-for-9 from beyond the arc. Fellow sharpshooter Sydney Wagner hit just two of eight attempts.
“We really put an emphasis on our team to be aware of where they are,” Mitchell said of Casey and Wagner. “Even if we’re in zone and [Casey or Wagner] is on your side, communicate that with your teammates. So we really tried to heighten our awareness of where those two players were specifically.”
The Tribe held a two-point lead after the first quarter. Despite seven early points from Currence, the Tribe recovered well and took their first lead on a deep three from Wagner with just seconds remaining in the quarter.
But the Huskies turned things around quickly in the second quarter. They scored the first six points after the break and forced the Tribe into eight turnovers in the quarter. Calabrese scored seven of her 15 in the period, and the Huskies took a seven-point lead into halftime after a baseline jumper from Leyla Öztürk.
The Tribe brought out the full court press in parts of the second quarter then again in the second half. It presented a challenge for the Huskies who last week struggled against the press of Delaware, and Mitchell said they spent a lot of time in practice this week working on breaking the press. They looked better than they did against Delaware, but then struggled by trying to go too fast in the halfcourt once they beat the press.
“Honestly, we’ve just got to slow down, try to control the tempo because they did force us into 22 turnovers,” Mitchell said. “We’re going to go back to the drawing board. We broke the press fine — now what? We’ve got to easily flow into things.”
William & Mary started the third quarter well, cutting the Northeastern lead to three at one point. That was as close as they got. Currence converted an and-one late in the quarter and though Casey hit a late three, the NU lead was five after three.
Casey cut the lead to four early in the fourth quarter, but the Huskies immediately responded with a 10-2 run to take their biggest lead of the game at 12.
Soriano scored six of her 10 points in the fourth quarter, finishing off one of her best all-around performances in a Northeastern jersey. The freshman phenom added eight assists, five steals, and provided a huge spark on both ends of the floor.
“It was great to close out the weekend the way that we did. I was really impressed with the team and again, our contributions from our bench, being able to make adjustments and really be aggressive on the offensive and defensive end,” Mitchell said.
Mitchell got the chance to coach against a player she has known for years: Riley Casey. She is the daughter of Sean Casey, who was Mitchell’s coach at The Peddie School in Hightstown, NJ. Mitchell used to babysit for the Casey family when Riley was younger, even doing ball-handling drills and shooting with her.
“It’s just full circle, her family and her father did so much for me in high school, going to a boarding school and him just being a role model for me and just, he really impacted my life in an amazing way,” Mitchell said. “So it was really nice to get a chance to see her and coach against her. My mom was in the stands cheering for her. Riley’s a hard player, she’s really tough. William & Mary got a great one.”
The Huskies have a short turnaround, as they welcome Jenna Annechiarico and the Charleston Cougars to Cabot Wednesday night at 5 p.m. Mike Puzzanghera and Peyton Doyle will have the call for WRBB.