By Jose Castillo, inside columnist
In an exciting weekend for women’s basketball, the Huskies not only broke a five-game losing streak with a win against the College of Charleston, but senior guard Samantha DeFreese also became the 19th player in Northeastern University (NU) history to score 1,000 career points during a Feb. 7 matchup with James Madison University (JMU).
An impressive 10-point third quarter from freshman guard Jess Genco, in addition to DeFreese’s double-double, helped secure Friday’s win over the Cougars in Charleston, S.C.
After opening the game with a strong first quarter, the Huskies let Charleston take over in the second and found themselves down 29-20 at the midway mark.
With the Huskies trailing by nine points at the end of the first half, Genco connected on two threes in the third to begin to bridge the gap. Support from senior center Francesca Sally, who put up 13 points during Friday’s game, and DeFreese helped NU equalize the game at 35-35 with 1:36 remaining in the third quarter. Early efforts in the fourth put Huskies up by one, their first lead since the first.
The College of Charleston refused to go down without a fight. The Cougars’ senior forward Kelsey Booth knocked down a 3-pointer that put Charleston back up by one with 3:51 left in the fourth. DeFreese responded with a jumper after the Huskies had missed two shots but secured both offensive rebounds. Another jump shot from Sally, along with three made free-throw shots from freshman guard Zoe Zwerling, ended the game with NU on top 52-49.
Northeastern finished with a field goal percentage of 36.8 percent while shooting 23.8 percent from beyond the arc. The Huskies outrebounded the Cougars 42-40, 17 of which were offensive.
After Friday’s win, the Huskies returned to Cabot on Sunday to play JMU, suffering a loss at the hands of the current Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) leaders.
The Huskies held their ground early in the first half, nailing seven free throws in the first frame to give them a four-point lead at the end of the quarter. However, the Dukes clawed back in the second frame and eventually pushed past NU, leading by six points at their highest margin in the second.
Northeastern eventually broke down the lead, and DeFreese nailed a shot at the buzzer to put the Huskies at a one-point deficit at halftime, 27-26.
In the third quarter, DeFreese converted on a three-point play, tying the game at 36-36. JMU replied with an 11-point run and ended the quarter at 47-38. Despite coming within four points at the four-minute mark, the Huskies were not able to recover. The Dukes went on to win 61-52.
Overall, Northeastern recorded only nine turnovers, a season low.
Despite the loss, the game had a happy undertone as DeFreese became the 19th player in NU women’s basketball history to score 1000 points in her collegiate career. Tallying 22 in Sunday’s game, DeFreese has accumulated 1,006 points during her time at NU. She also tallied a double-double during the game with 10 rebounds.
Head coach Kelly Cole was satisfied with the results of the game.
“I think it was a fantastic game,” Cole said. “We did almost everything we set out to do, [yet] we let them get a head up on offensive boards.”
“[DeFreese] has really stepped into a leadership role; she is what is driving this team, the more she stays consistent, the better we are going to do,” Cole said.
The Huskies’ next game takes them on the road, where they will be facing University of North Carolina at Wilmington on Friday, Feb. 12.
By Jim Pierce, Northeastern Athletics.