Story by Rae Deer
ELON, NC– The Northeastern women’s basketball team has been plagued with quite the unlucky streak. Since their devastating 56-43 loss to Hofstra on February 6th, the team has had their work cut out for them and have been unable to garner a win, dropping their fifth straight to Elon on Sunday afternoon. Despite putting up a valiant effort to keep things close in the first half, the Huskies were unable to shut down the Phoenix offense in the final quarters and Elon pulled away with a score of 78-65.
“Elon was a really physical team,” said head coach Bridgette Mitchell. “They came in, punched first, punched for the entire 40 minutes.”
Elon brought the intensity and battled from the beginning. The opening minutes of the contest were entirely Elon. They struck first and continued to do so without response, keeping the momentum in their favor.
On the other side, Northeastern struggled, not getting their first point on the board until four minutes in. Freshman guard Gemima Motema, who ended the game with 10 points, came alive and started to get things going for the Huskies, but Elon never slowed down. They kept knocking down shots and had a ten point lead with three minutes left in the first quarter. However, Northeastern reemerged with a 9-0 run to lessen the gap to one by the time the buzzer sounded.
The second quarter looked even brighter for the Huskies. They outscored Elon 22-19, and shot 80% from the three point line. Guards Kendall Currence, who scored 20 points, and Claudia Soriano, with 13 this game, each hit two three-pointers to keep Northeastern in striking distance, but the Huskies shot 53% from the field and foul troubles propelled Elon forward. The Phoenix took and made nine free throws in the second quarter and guard Donna Ntambue was in a dangerous spot with three fouls already.
It also didn’t help that Elon’s center Evonna McGill, who was playing in just her fourth game back from injury, heated up in the second quarter and scored seven points off the bench in eight minutes. Currence and Soriano’s eight points apiece were enough to gain and hold the lead going into halftime, but Elon did not plan on going down without a fight.
The third quarter is where things started to slow for the Huskies. They shot just 18% from the field and scored only seven total points. Their possessions looked messy, their passes weren’t connecting well and their shots simply were not falling. Elon took this opportunity to pull away and widen the gap, going on a 10-0 run, scoring 22 points in that stretch. From here, Northeastern was going to have to fight for any chance to bring the game back.
But Elon had no intention of slowing down. Northeastern went into the final quarter with a 13-point deficit and things didn’t look much better. The Huskies just weren’t scoring as many points as they needed to bring the game any closer. The foul troubles got much worse, as four players, Currence, Ntambue, senior guard Katie May, and graduate forward Emily Calabrese, nearly fouled out and put Elon in the bonus. Elon scored just as many points as Northeastern in the final stretch to close out the game with the same lead they had entering the quarter.
Loss aside, Sunday’s game was still very special for the Huskies. It was a milestone afternoon for one of the greats of this team, senior captain Currence. She hit 1,000 career points during the final quarter, being only the 23rd player in program history to do so. Currence has been an essential piece of the Northeastern offense this year, averaging a team-leading 16.3 points per game, and is one of only two players to average double digits, the other being Soriano.
“Really proud of Kendall and her efforts,” Mitchell shared. “The things that she’s been able to do offensively and the aggression she has had … I’m happy for her, she’s had a great career, and it’s been a pleasure to coach her for this year.”
The Northeastern women’s basketball team has only four games left to play before tournament season begins. They host two games against James Madison University and Towson University before closing out the season on the road against UNCW and College of Charleston. WRBB will have coverage of Friday’s Think Pink matchup against JMU with Mike Puzzanghera, Catherine Morrison, and Peyton Doyle on the call. Keep a close eye on WRBB social media for more information.