The Hofstra women’s basketball team opened up conference play with an intense and hard fought 56-53 victory over William & Mary at the Mack Sports Complex. The win was the fourth straight for the Pride who improved their record to 5-7.
“The conference season has begun and welcome to it,” an exhausted Coach Krista Kilburn-Stgeveskey said after the game. “It was a hard fought game by William & Mary tonight and this is the way it’s going to be.”
Hofstra took the lead 3-2 on a jump shot by Deven Green just 2:10 into the game and never trailed again. Still, William & Mary (2-10,kept things close and the two teams battled throughout the game. The largest lead the Pride held was 11 points with 6:06 left in the second half.
William & Mary did their best to collapse on Hofstra’s Shante Evans and held her to 11 points. But the Pride countered with balanced scoring with Andreana Thomas and Annie Payton scoring 10 points each, Candace Bond adding eight and Asia Jackson contributing seven.
Hofstra played strong defense throughout the game, forcing 24 William & Mary turnovers. The Pride was also credited with 12 steals in the game led by Bond with six.
“Defensively, I’d say we played an excellent game,” Coach Kilburn-Steveskey said. “That’s what kept us in the game the entire first half. We were not shooting the ball well but they didn’t let that affect them and that’s how you win games.”
For her part, Bond was quick to credit her teammates with helping her lead the team in steals. “The whole team was talking to me, telling me where to be,” she explained. “Shante pushes me if I’m not in the right place. Believe me, it was not me.”
The contest got even more physical in the second half. Midway through the final 20 minutes, Anma Onyeuku had to leave the game for a few minutes after taking a hard blow to her face on a battle for the ball under the basket. She returned to action a few minutes later.
William & Mary slowly chipped away at Hofstra’s lead in the second half. The Pride took a 54-48 lead when Evans passed to Onyeuku for a layup with 1:51 left but a three-point shot by Janine Aldridge and a layup by Jazmen Boone shrank the Hofstra lead to 54-53 with just 52 seconds left on the clock.
On the next possession, Evans got a big offensive rebound and converted a layup to give the Pride a 56-53 lead with 27 seconds remaining.
Then the Hofstra defense kept the pressure up and limited William & Mary to a desperation three by Aldridge that was off the mark.
“I knew this was going to be a battle today and I love the fact that they knew they could win,” Coach Kilburn-Steveskey added. “They kept playing defense and they really believed they were going to win and we weren’t there a few weeks ago. Now we have to build on this because it’s going to keep getting tougher.”
Hofstra returns to action on Thursday when they host conference rival Georgia State at the Mack Sports Complex. Tipoff is scheduled for 7:00 PM.
William & Mary had two Long Island natives in their starting lineup. Jaclyn McKenna who attended John Glenn High School in Elwood scored 12 points and added 11 rebounds ,while Janine Aldridge of Massapequa High School had 10 points and eight rebounds for the visiting Tribe.
Shante Evans had 11 points and 12 rebounds for a double-double while Andreana Thomas finished with 10 points, nine rebounds and eight assists.
Evans needs just 21 more points to break the all-time school scoring record.
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