BOSTON — On a day filled of Black History Month festivities — which included sophomore forward Asha Parker performing “Lift Every Voice” before the national anthem — the Huskies stole the show, outlasting Hofstra 59-52 in what turned out to be a defensive showdown.
The Huskies dominated both ends of the floor from the get-go, forcing the Pride to take a lot of long, stagnant offensive possessions while dominating the paint on their own offensive end. Northeastern jumped out to a quick 6-0 lead, highlighted by two fastbreak buckets from guards Gemima Motema and JaMiya Braxton.
In the opening frame, Northeastern shot a respectable 46.2% from the field, with contributions up and down the lineup. Forwards Deja Bristol and Halle Idowu chipped in four and three points to lead the bench scoring, which accounted for nine out of the 19 points the Huskies had this quarter.
Despite the blazing start by the Husky offense, the Pride only trailed by three thanks to a lot of undisciplined fouling by Northeastern, many coming on the floor which put Hofstra in the bonus quickly.
Guard Ally Knights led Hofstra in scoring in this period, getting all seven of her points from the charity stripe. Hofstra also pulled down four offensive rebounds in this quarter, all on the same sequence, but was unable to convert on any of the extra opportunities.
“I thought that we allowed them to penetrate [down the] middle too much, which caused some of those fouls,” said head coach Bridgette Mitchell. “But we were aggressive and our defense led to offense, [and] we were getting transition points.”
However, the script was flipped in the second quarter as the Huskies continued to out run Hofstra in transition and tally up fastbreak points. On consecutive stops, Motema and Bristol recorded a blocked shot, ran out on the fastbreak, and were rewarded with easy finishes.
This swarming Northeastern defense packed the paint and aggressively double teamed down low keeping the Pride off the board until halfway through the quarter, when redshirt senior Jada Peacock connected from downtown for the first triple from either squad. The Huskies then also opened up their scoring from deep, thanks to Braxton a few possessions later. Motema recorded four more points off yet another fastbreak and a steal on the inbounds pass immediately after to expand the Huskies’ lead to 13 going into the break.
“Our goal was just to push the tempo … make sure that we push the ball and get wide open layups, and we were successful in doing that,” Mitchell said. “We’re going to continue to work at playing at that fast pace.”
Hofstra’s star guard, graduate transfer Brandy Thomas, was stifled during the first half as well. Averaging 13.7 points per game coming into the contest, she only tallied two in the first half, shooting an abysmal 1-6 from the field before she left the half early after collecting three personal fouls. She was mostly a non-factor in this game because of foul trouble, finishing with seven points but still pulling down eight rebounds.
Coming out of the locker room, Northeastern hoped to take the momentum into the second half and put the Pride away early. The opposite of that happened.
The Huskies’ offense was puzzled by the defensive adjustments Hofstra made, shooting a disastrous 16.7% (3-18) from the field. Both teams settled for tough shots, finishing with 10 points each in the quarter.
Star guard Derin Erdogan, who had a quiet afternoon, scored five of her 10 game points during the third but took seven shots to do so. Even though the junior’s contributions in the points column weren’t on-par with her season averages, she added seven rebounds and assists.
The Pride were led by senior guard Sorelle Ineza, who had seven points in the quarter and 12 on the game, stepping up in light of Thomas’ struggles to keep Hofstra within striking distance.
Since the Huskies weren’t able to put the Pride away in the third, the door was wide open for Hofstra to get back into the game. The final quarter started off with junior forward Zyheima Swint splitting a pair of free throws and a Thomas three on the next possession to cut their deficit to single digits.
The teams traded field goals for the next two minutes, with Idowu hitting a jumper and Bristol, who finished with nine points, making a layup to close the book on her scoring. Freshman guard Emma Von Essen tallied a three, Swint converted a layup for Hofstra during this stretch, and the Northeastern lead was down to eight.
After a layup from both sides, Erdogan hit a stepback jumper to push the Huskies’ lead back to double digits, only for Ineza to respond moments after on a second-chance jumper off of Knights’ offensive rebound. Swint would finish a tough and-one and convert the three point play to get the Pride within two possessions, but freshman Ariana Webb answered with a jumper off Parker’s offensive rebound.
Despite the lead only being eight, Mitchell decided to empty the bench, going with a lineup of Anna Boruta, Izzy Larsen, Camille Clement, Oralye Kiefer, and Webb for the last 90 seconds. The five weren’t able to get much going on the offensive end, turning the ball over twice, as Hofstra made one last push to close the gap. A Thomas pullup jumper got the Pride within two possessions with a minute remaining, but Clement responded with one of her own on a beautiful inbounds pick and roll after a timeout.
“Everyone on our team works extremely hard,” Mitchell said. “They can close the game just as well as our starters. I have confidence in all of my players one through 15. … They showed that today, [and I’m] proud of everyone’s efforts.”
Hofstra missed a pair of field goals, and with 28 seconds left, seemed content with letting the clock run out and tried to force a turnover on the Huskies’ offensive possession. However, Webb attempted a three with eight seconds remaining, and Ineza was fouled by Larsen on a fast break. She was only able to convert the first one, and Swint was unable to finish after grabbing the offensive board as the clock ticked down to zero.
This was Northeastern’s fourth straight win and secured at least a .500 winning percentage in CAA play, as the Huskies are now in a three way tie with William & Mary and Towson for fourth in the conference standings.
The Huskies will stay at Cabot for a matchup against Delaware and their annual Think Pink game on Friday. Daisy Roberts and Jordan Walsh will have the call on WRBB Sports+ for the 7 p.m. tipoff.