UPPER MARLBORO, Md. — The Hofstra women’s basketball team could not overcome a 24-point halftime deficit and fell to Northeastern, 65-54, in the quarterfinals of the Colonial Athletic Association Tournament on Thursday night.
Though third-seeded Hofstra mounted a gallant second-half comeback to overcome what had been a 28-point deficit, it wasn’t enough. A three-pointer by Ashunae Durant with 43 seconds left cut it to 63-54, but the sixth-seeded Huskies closed it out with two foul shots.
“We got out-hustled and out-executed, and we did not have the start we wanted,” Hofstra coach Krista Kilburn-Steveskey said. “I wish I could go back and tell you we had a bad week . . . That was just a buzzsaw.”
Looking more like the Huskies from UConn in the first half, Northeastern led 42-18 after 20 minutes.
Hofstra managed only one field goal in the initial 8:15 and was outscored 20-2. Krystal Luciano’s three-pointer gave Hofstra its second field goal of the game with 1:45 left in the first quarter.
The Huskies (15-15) advanced to the semifinals of the conference tournament for the first time since joining the CAA in 2002, combining aggressive defense with lights-out three- point shooting (8-for-15).
It was a stunning defeat for the Pride (22-8), which advanced to its first conference tournament championship game a year ago before falling to James Madison. Hofstra had won the last seven games against the Huskies, including a 71-64 decision to end the regular season.
Senior guard Jakelle King-Gilchrist, who scored a season-high 18 in that one, was 0-for-11 from the field last night. Durant led Hofstra with 17 points and 10 rebounds and Darius Faulk scored 13.
“We didn’t have good leadership when it was going down,” Kilburn-Steveskey said. “That was disappointing when the buzzsaw hit.”
The Pride trailed 27-9 after the futile first 10 minutes, undone by seven turnovers, including three by Luciano. Northeastern shot 59 percent in the first half and was led by freshman Jess Genco’s 13 points. She finished with 19 and hit four three-pointers.
After recording back-to-back 20-win seasons for the first time since 1982-83, the Pride will learn its WNIT fate late Monday night. Hofstra has made five appearances in the WNIT, advancing to the quarterfinals in 2007.
Northeastern will play second-seeded Drexel in Friday’s semifinals. Top seed James Madison, a 53-50 winner over Elon earlier in the day, is the two-time defending champion.