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NU star point guard suffers injury in 79-61 win over Towson

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NU star point guard suffers injury in 79-61 win over Towson

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By John Hagerty, deputy sports editor

After two lopsided losses last week against James Madison University and the College of William & Mary, the Northeastern women’s basketball team wanted to get their season back on track Friday night at Cabot Center.

“[The losses] were sitting in the back our mind,” first-year guard Stella Clark said. “It helped push us to come back and get this win tonight. That was an edge for us knowing in those games we didn’t perform our best and we had much more in us.”

The biggest difference for the Huskies against Towson was their defensive mindset. They held the visiting Tigers to 38 percent on field goals and only allowed two fast-break points.

Head coach Kelly Cole said defense was a point of emphasis in practice this week after giving up a combined 143 points in their last two losses.

“Last week we got ourselves killed with dribble penetration,” Cole said. “For us it was a mentality thing. We did a good job of understanding who the shooters were, who the drivers were and being in the right places.”

The first quarter was back and forth with neither team able to build a sizable lead, as the Huskies led 20-19 after the first ten minutes. The Tigers feasted on the offensive glass in the first quarter and throughout the game; they had 15 offensive rebounds and 12 second-chance points.

The Huskies found their groove on both ends and began to pull away in the second quarter. At the 9:30 mark, a Jasmine Braswell steal led to an easy bucket in transition for fifth-year guard Claudia Ortiz, who came off the bench and contributed nine points. NU continued to lock down the Tigers and maintained a 37-30 lead going into halftime.

“In the second, third and fourth quarter we executed much better with our plays reading the defense, we were one step quicker than we were last week,” Clark said.

In the third quarter, the Huskies continued building their lead and thwarted an aggressive full court press which Towson implemented after halftime.

At the 1:14 mark in the third quarter, third-year guard Jess Genco went down with a right ankle injury. The court fell silent and the team was shocked as the team’s leader in both scoring and minutes slumped on the ground in agony holding her leg.

“Jess has been great this year,” Clark said. “She has been so much fun to play with and I have learned so much from playing with her. It was tough watching her go down like that.”

Genco did not return to the game and finished with a team-high 17 points on 7-12 shooting. Cole said her injury status is uncertain.

“We’re all going to go home, keep our fingers crossed, let the trainers do their job and see what happens tomorrow morning when we get here,” Cole said.

The team responded well to Genco’s injury and was able to extend its lead in the fourth quarter, tacking on free throws from intentional fouls in the final minutes to lead 79-61 at the final buzzer.

Despite losing arguably their most valuable player, Cole expects others to step up in her place if Genco is injured for an extended time.

“She’s the starting point guard. She’s a leader on the floor,” Cole said. “One of the things that we pride ourselves on is making it a team effort. We’re going to miss her leadership, but because it’s been a team effort all year long, I think it will continue to be.”

An emerging team contributor — who will likely be getting more minutes with Genco missing time — is first-year guard Jasmin Watson, who had a career-high 12 points and three triples against Towson.

Coming off of ankle surgery in the offseason, Watson is building her confidence and finding her role in the offense.

“When I go out there I think: what is there to lose? You’re out there for a reason and I just show what I can do,” Watson said.

The Huskies will return to action Sunday afternoon at Cabot Center as they face Elon University.

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NU star point guard suffers injury in 79-61 win over Towson