BOSTON — Down the stretch of a neck-and-neck battle against crosstown rival Boston University in Monday night’s season opener, Northeastern turned to their new star — junior point guard Derin Erdogan. The Arizona transfer scored the Huskies’ last seven points, including two late free throws, to give the Huskies a dramatic 66-65 win at Case Gym.
Erdogan scored a game-high 24 points on 9-13 shooting, including 4-8 from deep. Late in the fourth quarter, she hit a wing three to cut the BU lead to one, and her layup with two minutes to go gave the Huskies a one-point lead. After BU senior guard Maggie Pina put BU back in front, Erdogan’s free throws with a minute and a half to play gave the Huskies the lead for good.
“Derin, she brought our poise, she was so confident,” Northeastern head coach Bridgette Mitchell said. “She was very even-keeled and the team responded to that.”
The back-and-forth battle involved 32 lead changes and 11 ties. The largest lead came in the opening minutes, when the Huskies kicked off the game with a 7-0 run.
Sophomore guard Gemima Motema added 16 points for the Huskies despite playing through foul trouble. Motema, sophomore forward Asha Parker, and junior forward Halle Idowu each picked up four fouls, and the Huskies picked up 22 total fouls.
The ongoing trouble, particularly with the Huskies’ bigs, allowed freshman forward Oralye Kiefer to pick up big minutes, and she made the most of them. With BU dominating the paint through 6’4” junior Caitlin Weimar (14 points, 11 rebounds), the Huskies relied on Kiefer to provide a defensive presence inside. Kiefer finished with seven points, a team-leading eight rebounds, as well as two blocks and a steal.
“To come in as a freshman and have that type of game and impact, and be respected by your teammates is really, really impressive,” Mitchell said of Kiefer’s performance.
The Huskies held a four-point lead at the half, but the Terriers established their post presence in the third quarter. Weimar scored five of her 14 points in the frame, and the Terriers kept finding ways to get to the charity stripe. The Huskies committed 11 fouls in the third, giving BU 16 free throws attempts. However, the Terriers only connected on eight of them, keeping the Huskies within reach. BU Sophomore guard Alex Giannaros (team-high 23 points) went 9-13 from the line on the night despite a 6-18 performance from the field.
In the fourth, Erdogan scored 12 points to offset the impact of Giannaros, who started hitting her shots from the field late. The Huskies leaned on her and Motema (six fourth-quarter points) for crunch-time buckets. They also neutralized BU’s post presence late, something the Huskies had not been able to do through the first three quarters.
“Our posts did a really good job,” Mitchell said. “Their posts didn’t demonstrate that they could hit that high-post jumper, so we were really trying to sag off into the paint as much as we could. Sometimes it worked in our favor, sometimes it didn’t. But I think that our ability to stay consistent with our game plan was really impressive.”
After a Northeastern turnover with just over 30 seconds to go, the Terriers had one final chance to take the lead. Weimar missed on a jumper from the left elbow, but Pina grabbed the offensive rebound to give the Terriers another opportunity. JaMiya Braxton defended Pina on the perimeter, and the graduate student guard knocked the ball out of her hands with under three seconds to play. Kiefer dove on top of the loose ball to seal the win for the Huskies.
It was the Terriers’ 19th turnover of the night, as their inability to hold onto possession turned into 12 points for the Huskies. Giannaros turned the ball over eight times, but just twice in the second half and zero times in the fourth. BU managed just three points off Northeastern’s 14 turnovers.
The win over the Terriers was Northeastern’s eighth in the last 10 meetings, and second in a row after a win at the Cabot Center last season. It also marked the second year in a row that Northeastern opened the season with a win over a Patriot League team on the road, after dispatching Holy Cross in the 21’-22’ opener.
The Huskies are on the road again Thursday night, as they face No. 6 UConn in Storrs in the opposing Huskies’ season opener. WRBB will have live coverage from Gampel Pavilion, with Peyton Doyle and Mike Puzzanghera on the call. Coverage will begin at 6:45.