By Alex Bensley, news correspondent
The Northeastern women’s basketball team bounced back on Sunday afternoon with a 61-44 trouncing of the College of Charleston after a loss at Elon University on Friday.
The Huskies fell to Elon 70-58, which gave them their fifth consecutive loss.
The Elon defense was relentless inside, not allowing the Huskies any easy points. Senior center Francesca Sally, usually a reliable source of efficient scoring, was stifled to the tune of 2-15 shooting. Junior guard Claudia Ortiz was similarly held to 2-9 shooting.
Sophomore guard Jess Genco put forth the best individual performance for the Huskies, pouring in 17 points to complement two steals and a block. Junior forward Maureen Taggart was right behind her with 12 points of her own, including a 4-5 night from behind the arc.
Despite the pair’s big night, Northeastern was held to 36 percent as a unit.
Elon, on the other hand, was able to get four players into double digit scoring, leading a balanced offensive attack. Shaking off cold second half shooting, the Phoenix corralled 16 offensive rebounds, keeping their possessions alive.
The Huskies showed an ability to fix their issues on the fly, putting forth a much-improved showing against Charleston.
Genco’s six assists, Ortiz’s 23 points and Sally’s 15 rebounds led the way for the Huskies, who improved to 8-17 on the season and 4-9 in conference play.
Before the game, Northeastern’s own Tesha Tinsley (‘00) had her jersey retired, joining Reggie Lewis on the walls of the Cabot Center. Tinsley left a staunch legacy as the school’s all-time leader in points, assists and steals. Tinsley also led the 1998-99 team to the best record in school history, and the school’s first ever America East championship. Northeastern coach Kelly Cole revelled in the ceremony and its significance.
“What a great event, what a great opportunity. I said to the girls beforehand to bring what was a tremendous winning tradition back to the gymnasium,” she said. “There’s a whole lot of alumni in the stands who gave us the opportunities we have right now.”
The Huskies rose to the occasion and opened up a 20-10 lead after one quarter. They did so with good ball movement, opening up holes in the Charleston defense.
“We wanted to make them jump, get them moving, throw pass fakes and we knew that we’d have openings,” Genco said.
Cole reinforced the importance of moving the ball on offense.
“One of the things we continue to work on is our ball movement,” Cole said. “When we move the ball, when we get everyone involved, good things happened. I think we did a really nice job of that against Elon and we did a great job again tonight.”
The women knew they were going to face another tough test Sunday – a Charleston team that scores points and gets steals.
“This is a team that can put the ball into the basket, so our goal going into it was to keep the scoring down,” Cole said.
The Huskies would have to be at their best. And they were, but midway through the fourth quarter, Charleston brought the game to within nine points. A Charleston comeback seemed possible, but Northeastern’s stingy defense prevailed, holding Charleston to just 22 percent shooting from the field. The offense continued to move the ball effectively and hit open shots down the stretch. For the game, Northeastern shot 40 percent from the field and 33 percent from three-point range.
After five consecutive losses, Northeastern is back in the win column and right where they want to be as the Colonial Athletic Association tournament looms.
“[The win] means a lot,” Genco said. “It’s a nice boost; I think it’s just what we needed right now. And I think it confirms that we have been improving and we’re getting ready for postseason play.”
The Huskies will host Delaware this Friday before embarking on their last road trip of the regular season. They conclude their regular season on March 1 against Hofstra, which is the team’s senior night.
Coach Cole expanded on Genco’s positive remarks, as she looked forward to the rest of the season.
“We’ve had the toughest part of our schedule behind us. We’re looking to go into these last six games thinking that we could get on a six game roll right here,” she said. “I would say they’re locked in. They got their sights on making a run at it, kind of like we did last year, and then getting ourselves ready for the tournament.”
Photo by Lauren Scornavacca