Women’s basketball drops season-opening nailbiter to South Dakota


Nina Ellery Oliveira

Senior forward Ayanna Dublin puts up a 2-pointer in traffic against members of the South Dakota defense.

Niyati Parikh, news correspondent

With it being the annual Boston Public Schools Day at the Cabot Center, the energy of the environment was off the charts in anticipation for the start of the game, and the start of Northeastern’s season. Unfortunately, the anticipation was met with defeat, as the Northeastern women’s basketball team was narrowly defeated by the visiting South Dakota Coyotes, 80-76.

After the Huskies finished 1-6 during the 2018-19 season against opponents ranked in CollegeInsider.com’s polls, they knew they had an uphill battle coming their way in their home opener against mid-major No. 1 South Dakota. 

The South Dakota squad was aggressive from the start, leaving the Huskies trailing 4-0 off two quick baskets. Two minutes into the game, however, sophomore guard Kendall Currence knocked down the first points of the season for the Huskies with a routine 3-pointer. 

Freshman forward Mide Oriyomi sank the first two points of her career off of an offensive rebound converted into a layup. The Huskies trailed 11-17 in the opening quarter where poor shooting seemed to be the pitfall; the Huskies were shooting just 33 percent from the field and 11 percent from beyond the 3-point line. 

Both squads set a furious pace to open up the second quarter. The Huskies started the scoring with a steal and an assist by freshman guard Mossi Staples converted to a layup by sophomore forward Alexis Hill in South Dakota’s paint on a fast break. 

With the score 30-27 in the Coyotes favor, South Dakota committed 2 fouls in 4 seconds with under a minute remaining in the first half, leading to a big play by Oriyomi, who hit a 3-pointer to tie the game with 36 seconds left in the half. The Coyotes bounced back and knocked down another bucket to end the half up two points, 32-30.

The Huskies were not to be counted out heading into the second half. The physicality between the two squads was evident as the first points for either team came two minutes into the quarter from the foul line. Senior forward Ayanna Dublin then countered with two points as she converted off an inbound steal in the Husky paint.

Dublin tied the game at 45 with 2:24 left in the third with two free throws. Junior guard Stella Clark then sunk a deep triple, giving the Huskies their first lead of the game. Back-to-back three-pointers tied the game at 48 as the third quarter wound down and created a high-energy environment headed into the fourth. 

Currence knocked down two points, transferring the lead to the Huskies to start the 4th quarter. A technical foul by South Dakota gave Clark an opportunity at the line, and she scored both to give the Huskies a 54-52 lead. 

Hill hit an and-1 layup assisted by Clark, converting the free throw for a much-needed 3-point play for the Huskies, increasing their lead to 66-60.

The Huskies then went on a 9-0 run with three minutes left in the game following two deep 3-point baskets from Currence, giving them their largest lead of the game, 72-62. 

However, even with that great run, the Coyotes battled back, culminating with a 3-point play by junior guard Chloe Lamb that gave the Coyotes the lead once again, 73-72, with 56 seconds left in the game. A foul by NU sophomore guard Katie May on Coyotes senior guard Ciara Duffy sent her to the line, where she converted a free throw to increase the lead to 74-72 with 25 seconds left. 

“I knew this was going to be a hard team to win against and fight, so coming out with a consistent shot was a goal of mine,” said Currence. She did just that, hitting a clutch 3-pointer to cut the South Dakota lead to one at 76-75 . The effort proved not to be enough, however, as the Coyotes remained in control and went on to win, 80-76.

Currence finished as NU’s leading scorer. The sophomore finished the game with 19 points and a perfect 4-4 from the field in the second half. Other double-digit scorers for Northeastern included Hill (15), Clark (13) and Oriyomi (10). 

With five tie scores throughout the duration of the game, this was a tough and hard-fought loss for the Huskies. 

“We’ve had a ton of injuries this fall and very little time with a full squad on the floor, so my words to [the team] were that we fought for 37 minutes, we played a great game,” said NU head coach Kelly Cole. “Yes, we wanted to walk out with the win but we did so many great things that we can definitely use going forward. We just need to focus on finishing now as we finally have our team back.”

The Huskies head across the country to play at Oregon, another top-seeded team, Monday.