Story by Jordan Walsh
BOSTON — After their star guard suffered an injury less than six minutes into the game, the Northeastern Huskies (13-13, 7-9 CAA) used their depth to battle through adversity, but fell to the Towson Tigers (22-5, 13-3 CAA) Sunday afternoon by a score of 57-56.
In an awkward play in the first quarter, the knee of Towson junior guard/forward Ryann Evans appeared to hit Huskies senior guard Kendall Currence in the back of her left thigh, and Currence immediately hobbled and fell to the floor, wincing in pain. Currence did not return for the remainder of the game.
The injury is especially heartbreaking considering it came on Senior Day, when Currence was one of three Huskies honored in pregame celebrations.
Senior guard Katie May, her teammate of four years, as well as graduate student forward Emily Calabrese, who transferred from St. Bonaventure prior to this season, were also recognized in the festivities. All three players were joined by family members for the ceremonies, but Currence’s contingent of supporters was the largest, and she sat with them behind the bench after exiting the contest and receiving treatment.
The Huskies had to adjust quickly with Currence, the team’s leading scorer, on the sidelines. Junior guard Century McCartney, who was subbed in immediately after Currence exited, scored all four of Northeastern’s points between the injury and the end of the first quarter, and the Huskies trailed by just two after 10 minutes.
In the second frame, the undermanned Huskies went on a tear, rattling off a 14-0 run. Eight of those points came from freshman guard Claudia Soriano, who unsurprisingly showcased tremendous effort on both ends of the floor.
“Claudia’s been an attacker,” said Huskies head coach Bridgette Mitchell postgame. “Offensive and defensive end, all season, so [I’m] really not surprised with her ability to do the things and try to look for the shots that she was able to get today.”
However, Towson responded with an 11-4 run of their own, including two threes from junior guard Aleah Nelson. Nelson, the Tigers’ leading scorer, had been on a quiet stretch, scoring just one point in the 14 minutes of game time preceding the run.
Meanwhile, sophomore forward Allie Kubek, second in scoring on Towson, did not have any points in the first half. Northeastern still led by three at halftime, but the Tigers were not going to lie down.
In the third quarter, the Huskies went just 4-for-17 from the field, with Soriano and freshman guard Gemima Motema contributing all of the scoring in the frame. Northeastern went 0-for-6 from beyond the arc in the quarter, as May and freshman guard Camille Clement couldn’t get deep shots they normally make to fall.
Towson suffered an injury of its own in the third, when Kubek took a wild tumble into her team’s bench while saving the ball from going out of bounds. Unlike Currence, however, Kubek was able to stay in the game and later drilled a crucial three in the fourth quarter.
The fourth frame was back-and-forth, with neither team holding a multi-possession lead until the final few seconds. Sophomore guard Donna Ntambue scored seven of her nine overall points in the final quarter for Northeastern.
Unfortunately for the home squad, it would not be enough, as a try for three in the final seconds of the game from Soriano that would have tied it, instead fell short. Towson then went 1-for-2 from the free throw line, rendering a buzzer-beating three from Ntambue moot.
Mitchell spoke about how proud she was of her team’s all-around effort after losing their star early.
“We talk a lot about resiliency, in this week specifically returning after coming back off of losing five games,” Mitchell said. “So we’ve been talking about resiliency and this was just another opportunity for us to demonstrate it … Kendall obviously was leading us in scoring and doing great things for our team, and so to lose her in that play, it was unfortunate but again I’m proud of the team’s effort to really bounce back.”
Mitchell detailed how much of a pleasure it has been to coach her seniors, after their final game at the Cabot Center.
“Man, it’s awesome,” Mitchell said. “That’s why I’m emotional now… I’m just thankful.”
“[W]e talked about how Katie every day she’s been playing injured. Every day, and she comes in and you would never be able to tell. Emily, the physicality that she brings every day, Emily’s never missed a practice in her college career.,” Mitchell added. “And Kendall, it’s a lot to lead a team in scoring, right? It’s a lot to, you know, ‘Give me the ball, and I’ll do work, I’ll make some things happen,’ and that’s a lot of weight and she carries it with grace. She carries it awesome. And so, just again, I’m just thankful.”
The Huskies conclude CAA regular season play with a two-game road trip to the Carolinas, where they will face UNCW and Charleston on Thursday night and Saturday afternoon, respectively. It remains to be seen whether Currence will be able to return before the end of the season.
“It’s going to be a similar game plan for College of Charleston,” Mitchell said. “We want to control the pace and tempo, and with UNC Wilmington we’re going to try to shake some things up in terms of what we do and what we can play with.”
Northeastern’s game in Wilmington tips at 7 p.m. on Thursday.