By Charlie Wolfson, news correspondent
The Northeastern University women’s basketball season began with two wins over the weekend: One at home against Boston University (BU) and one on the road at Canisius College in Buffalo, New York.
The opener, a 78-59 win over BU on Nov. 11 at the Cabot Center, was a heated matchup with a crosstown rival. While some rivalries in sport can be overstated, head coach Kelly Cole said that there was something to this one.
“Any crosstown rival, really any Boston team, is for bragging rights,” Cole said. “These kids play pickup with each other during the summertime, things like that.”
A crowd of over 400 people at Solomon Court fed into the spirited atmosphere. The Huskies went on runs of 6-0 and 16-0 in the first quarter, riding the beginning of what would become a three-point barrage throughout the game. The Huskies knocked down 12 threes in the game. Northeastern grabbed a 14-point lead after one quarter, and led by at least that throughout the rest of the game.
“I think we’ve got some fantastic shooters and scorers, and as long as we can continue to have that inside presence, then our shooters are going to be able to knock down shots,” Cole said on Friday. “Those are kids that on any given day can really light it up […] three point shooting is definitely something that we are looking to be a factor in who we are this year.”
Senior center Francesca Sally shared Cole’s sentiment on the team’s long range shooting ability.
“It’s definitely something that’s going to continue for us,” said Sally. “We have a lot of good shooters on the team. But I think it’s that balance, being able to get it inside and score inside, that opens up those three point shots, and we’ve been knocking them down.”
Leading the charge was sophomore guard Jess Genco, who was seven for nine from beyond the three-point arc. Her 27 points marked a career high. Sally chipped in two three pointers, and sophomore guard Zoe Zwerling, junior guard Claudia Ortiz and junior forward Maureen Taggart each contributed a triple.
One shortcoming in an otherwise clean performance against BU was the rebounding department. The Huskies were outrebounded 36-34, giving up 18 offensive boards in the process.
“I don’t know if we can even put more emphasis on it,” Cole said.“As I said, today was a great day. The only one thing is that we gave up way too many offensive boards. We knew coming in that they were scrappy, we did an okay job at points, but other times we just missed our marks, so we will continue to focus on that.”
Another thing that stood out to Cole was a lack of consistency. BU’s scoring increased in each of the first three quarters — 10, 17 and 19 points respectively. Cole chalked that up to her squad succumbing to complacency at times.
“It’s tough, especially for a young crew, knowing you’re ahead 20 points, to keep the pedal to the metal,” Cole said. “You start to loosen up, the details start to slip. You make a pass that wasn’t as crisp or you don’t step as aggressively to the ball […] We had way too many turnovers”
The Huskies improved their rebounding skills in an 83-59 win at Canisius on Nov. 13.
They outrebounded Canisius 40-31, including a 14-10 advantage on the offensive glass. The scoresheet is highlighted by Sally’s 13 boards, including 10 at the defensive end.
“I think we did improve our rebounding, by making sure we were boxing out, but also just going after and getting the ball,” Sally said. “In the BU game, a couple times we boxed out but let the ball hit the ground and BU came in and got it. Against Canisius, we went and got that ball, and that was the difference.”
Once again, Genco led an attack from beyond the three point line, scoring 17 points while draining five of Northeastern’s 12 threes. Sally scored 11 points, and sophomore forward Gabby Giacone had a breakout game with 18 points.
“Over the whole weekend, we worked really hard, and I think that’s what separated us in both games,” said Sally. “Our team effort has been great, and that’s something we want to carry on […] We’re learning a lot about each other, starting to understand what shots we’re going to be taking […] and just learning how to work together.”
Up next for the team is a home game against Saint Mary’s College of California at noon on Friday, Nov. 18 at the Cabot Center.
Photo courtesy of Jim Pierce, Northeastern Athletics