BOSTON — The Cabot Center was rocking on Saturday, as Northeastern took on Monmouth in a highly-anticipated rematch from late December’s CAA opener. Though Monmouth got the better of the Huskies in their first meeting, this time around the Huskies put on a thrilling performance and came away with a 75-70 victory in a nail-biting finish.
Head coach Bridgette Mitchell had a plan in place to change the tempo of the game from the opening tip, inserting senior guard Jaelyn Batts and junior forward Deja Bristol into the starting lineup. Despite the adjustments, the Huskies found themselves struggling early on. After falling behind 8-0, junior guard Derin Erdogan hit a deep three-pointer that sparked the Huskies into action. Mitchell reverted to her traditional starting lineup, bringing in sophomore forward Asha Parker and junior forward Halle Idowu, who quickly made their presence felt on the court.
“I thought that we responded really well,” Mitchell said on the slow start. “It is important to have a good mentality because teams are going to go on runs, it’s a game of basketball.”
The Huskies regained momentum after switching their defense from a zone to a full-court press, which proved to be a game-changer. The press caused 13 first-half turnovers and allowed Northeastern to close the gap and nearly go into halftime only down by one score. However, a miraculous offensive rebound and put-back by junior guard Ariana Vanderhoop gave the Hawks a five-point lead at the half.
The Huskies came out of halftime with a new determination, and while Monmouth had the momentum, the Huskies sophomore guard Gemima Motema took over for Northeastern. She put on a scoring clinic, making four baskets, equaling the entire Monmouth team. Her eight points helped propel the Huskies to a one-point lead, despite a quiet quarter Erdogan on the offensive end. However, Erdogan’s leadership on the defensive press was crucial in limiting the Hawks to only four baskets in the quarter.
“[Motema] scored a great deal,” Mitchell said. “She had confidence to go in there and her teammates were ready to rebound for her.”
In the fourth quarter, foul trouble proved to be a problem for the Huskies, with three players having four fouls each, including Erdogan. Despite this setback, Northeastern managed to score over 22 points in the quarter, their highest scoring output of the game. Every player who took a shot in the quarter contributed, and with 13 seconds left, the Hawks had possession and were down by three. But a costly turnover on the inbound pass, or lack of pass, allowed Northeastern to close it out by playing the free throw game and securing the win.
The Huskies showed their resilience and determination, never giving up even when they were down early on in the game. The full-court press proved to be a key factor in disrupting the Hawks’ attack, and the performance of Motema was instrumental in providing the Huskies with the necessary keys to come away with the victory.
Northeastern will be back in Cabot on Friday to face Drexel, a team near the top of the conference. Peyton Doyle and Eamonn Ryan will have the call on WRBB Sports+ ahead of the 7 p.m. tipoff.