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Hofstra WBB ready for big things

Hofstra forward Annie Payton makes a move against

Hofstra forward Annie Payton makes a move against Virginia Tech defender. Nov. 23, 2013 Credit: Hofstra Athletic Department

Youth, at times, has a way of slowing a team’s growth. And the Hofstra women’s squad has more of its share of underclassmen.

The Pride (9-10, 4-4 CAA) struggled early, winning just six of its first 16 games. But that hasn’t stopped Krista Kilburn-Steveskey’s crew from finding ways to improve. It hasn’t always been easy with just two seniors, two juniors and 10 freshmen/sophomores on the roster.

“They are coming together and we just need to keep building,” Kilburn-Steveskey said. “It’s a young team so it’s just important that they continue to believe in each other. We’re beginning to get that chemistry and we just need to go from there.”

One encouraging fact about Hofstra’s 6-10 start is that five of the losses came by six points or less, including two in overtime. A couple of bounces the other way and this is a Hofstra squad that could have been in first or second place in the CAA.

Beating second-place Drexel (10-10, 5-2), the reigning WNIT champion, could be the turning point for Hofstra, which has won three straight games. Sitting two games out of second place with eight conference games left, there’s no reason to believe the Pride, tied for fourth with Charleston, can’t finish among the top three.

Hofstra has gotten contributions from nearly every player on its roster. With 10 players averaging between 11 and 25 minutes per game, opponents are often guessing who will have the big game on a given night.

Freshman Krystal Luciano hit the winning layup in Sunday’s 68-66 upset of Drexel, while fellow freshman Kelly Loftus had 14 points and 10 rebounds. Senior guard Annie Payton scored 21 points off the bench. Another Pride freshman, Elo Edeferioka, had seven points and 11 rebounds.    

That scoring breakdown is an example of how Hofstra’s scoring can come from anyone during a given game. For the season, Anma Onyeku (11.7) and Payton (10.9) lead the Pride in scoring. Three other active players (Luciano, Asia Jackson, Edeferioka) are averaging at least 5.7 points per game.

Hofstra returns to the court on Thursday when it travels to Maryland to take on Towson.

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