Women’s Basketball: Solid freshman performance can’t carry Huskies

Women’s Basketball: Solid freshman performance can’t carry Huskies

By Jason Kornwitz

If not for a 23-14 run to the end the game, it could have been worse for the Huskies, who dropped a 78-56 decision to conference leader Delaware at Solomon Court on Sunday.

NU guard Ashlee Feldman tallied 15 points, guard Shaleyse Smallwood added five assists and forward Quiana Copeland grabbed 10 rebounds, but it wasn’t nearly enough to match the Fightin’ Blue Hens (12-2, 4-1), a squad ripe with intelligent ball-handlers, size and speed.

Following the lopsided defeat, Huskies coach Willette White explained simply what her squad, which has lost of six straight, must do to compete with top teams.

“Learn how to rebound,” she said. “There’s no more to say. We’ve just got to learn how to rebound.”

NU, outrebounded by a 40-29 margin, fell behind 11-0 to start, but cut the Delaware lead to six at 18-12 with 10:34 left in the first half after a Feldman layup. It was as close as the Huskies would get.

Backed by a stellar shooting performance from freshman guard Melissa Czorniewy – who scored 28 points, including 17 in the first half – the Hens finished the frame on a 22-10 run, increasing their lead to 18 at 40-22.

White was impressed with Czorniewy’s play.

“We knew she was a shooter,” White said. “We knew she could create her own shot and we just had to limit her touches, which we didn’t do a very good job of.”

In the second period, Delaware pulled away, increasing its lead to 31 points at 64-33 after guard Karleena Tobin (eight points) hit a jump shot.

Delaware’s leading scorer, guard Tyresa Smith, added 17 points and guard Alena Koshansky chipped in six assists in what was a balanced scoring attack.

NU’s defense failed to maintain a consistent level of aggressiveness, oftentimes allowing Delaware more than one shot per possession en route to surrendering 20 second chance points.

Meanwhile, NU’s offense struggled to mount a consistent attack as well and was often relegated to outside shots.

Struggling to get the ball down low, the Huskies turned the ball over 18 times, which lead to 28 Delaware points. The Hens’ tenacious defense disrupted NU’s offensive flow.

“When the ball went into the post, [Delaware] had two or three people double down and they were forcing us to shoot the ball from the outside,” White said. “But our ball movement was not good at all and I think we held it too much instead of continuing to attack. When people did attack we were able to get some easy looks.”

Guard Jody Burrows turned the ball over four times and took full responsibility for NU’s inability to get better looks at the basket.

“I have to make better decisions and take better care of the ball,” Burrows said.

Delaware shot 47.3 percent from the field, committed just 13 turnovers and limited the Huskies to just 12 points off those mistakes.

Burrows said the Huskies must improve their communication skills and concentrate on execution and rebounding.

“We’ve got to come out each and every night ready to fight and ready to play our best game,” she said. “It’s got to be 40 minutes of effort. We’ve yet to put together 40 minutes of strong, hard effort.”

Earlier in the week, the Huskies traveled to Virginia to face conference opponent James Madison (11-3, 3-2), but lost, 68-56, despite 14 points and five assists from guard Maralene Zwarich and 10 points each from forward Michelle Decerbo and Burrows.

Trailing by 11 early in the second half, the Huskies went on a 9-0 run to cut the lead to 40-38, but quickly saw their chances at victory dissolve when James Madison ripped off a 19-2 streak of its own to regain command with six minutes remaining.

In the contest, Decerbo suffered a foot injury that kept her out of the Delaware game and limited White’s options off the bench on Sunday.

“It made us a little smaller team. We didn’t have the depth coming off the bench but those things happen and we’ve got to deal with them, White said. “It’s that simple.”

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