The Hofstra University Women’s Basketball team earned a hard-fought, 61-58 overtime win over Northern Iowa at the Mack Sports Complex Friday afternoon. The win puts the Pride in the championship game of their Thanksgiving Tournament against Western Kentucky who beat Tulane in the opening game this afternoon.
Elo Edeferioka, Ashunae Durant and Krystal Luciano each had 14 points to lead the Pride while Madison Weekly had a game-high 21 for Northern Iowa.
Hofstra outrebounded Northern Iowa 53-37 led by Edeferioka’s 11, 10 by Ashunae Durant and nine boards by Darius Faulk.
“It was nice to get a win in overtime with my team and get them some experience,” Hofstra Head Coach Krista Kilburn-Steveskey said after the game. “It was good to get back on the winning side of things, too. I was really proud of our effort tonight, it was a team win.”
The Pride got off to a fast start and had a 17-4 lead after the first 12 minutes of play. Durant hit the first two baskets of the game for Hofstra and they managed to find Edeferioka in the paint for three baskets in the opening run.
The Hofstra defense was particularly strong early. Coach Kilburn-Steveskey wanted Edeferioka to concentrate on shutting down Jen Keitel, the Panthers biggest offensive threat. Edeferioka was more than equal to the task and Keitel was limited to six points for the game including just 2-of-12 from the field.
“She [Edeferioka] really focused on the defensive end first, “Kilburn-Steveskey said. “She just didn’t give her any breathing room.”
“She [Keitel] was their leading scorer and rebounder. I knew if we were going to win the game, I had to take her out of the game. I had to play good defense on her,” Edeferioka said. “I also understood that I couldn’t get into foul trouble. I just put my hands up whenever she got the ball and tried to take her out of the game.”
Northern Iowa slowly adjusted to Hofstra’s early game plan and went on a 13-5 run of their own to close to within 22-17 with 3:05 left in the half. A key three-point shot and a layup by Luciano in the final 2:27 helped Hofstra lead 29-19 at the half.
Hofstra had 22 points in the paint in the first half to just six for Northern Iowa which was a big reason for the Pride’s early success.
In the second half, Northern Iowa played solid defense and kept the Pride out of the paint. A three-point shot by Madison gave the Panthers a 32-31 lead with 14:31 left in regulation time.
The next four minutes saw the two teams battle back and forth and it was all even 37-37 with 10:04 remaining. Northern Iowa then went on an 8-2 run fueled by a three-pointer by Amber Sorenson and Hofstra had to get into comeback mode.
Trailing 49-42 with 3:36 left in the second half, the Pride started to close the gap. Durant hit a jump shot and two free throws while Edeferioka made a key shot with 24 seconds left off a pretty pass by Luciano to tie the game and send it to overtime at 49-49.
Faulk hit a layup 11 seconds into overtime and the Pride never trailed after that. Luciano hit a key three point-shot with 49 seconds left set up by a steal by Faulk that put the home team ahead 60-55 with 49 seconds left on the clock.
Although the Pride struggled with their free throw shooting down the stretch, they played strong defense and never allowed the Panthers to tie the game.
Despite some rough patches, Kilburn-Steveskey was pleased with this win. “We had a lead, we lost a lead, we fall back, we force overtime, we handled overtime…That’s the growth that has to come fast.”
With the win, Hofstra improves their record to 3-2 on the season. The Pride will face Western Kentucky Saturday at 4 pm in the championship game of the tournament while Tulane and Northern Iowa will tip off at 2 pm in the consolation game.
For more information about the Hofstra Women’s Basketball team fans are encouraged to click on the link seen here: