Women’s Basketball: Losing skid reaches eight games

Women’s Basketball: Losing skid reaches eight games

By Jason Kornwitz

After missing the last four games because of a knee injury, senior guard Maralene Zwarich returned to Solomon Court Friday for the final home game of her collegiate basketball career.

But a 74-59 loss to Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) opponent James Madison (20-5, 12-4 CAA) put a damper on the senior day pre-game festivities in which Zwarich and forwards Erica Sheppard and Michelle Decerbo were honored with friends and family in attendance to celebrate their on-court accomplishments.

The 15-point loss did not explain the frantic tension created as the Huskies seemed on the verge of knocking off the second best team in the conference. With as little as 4:34 remaining, the Huskies faced just a 57-54 deficit.

Afterward Zwarich, icing her knee and limping, reflected on her time as a Husky, in which she totaled 1,407 points, placing her fifth on the women’s all-time scoring list.

“It’s been an interesting four years,” Zwarich said, holding back tears. “There’s definitely been a lot of good times and there’s been a few bad times, and I took it all in stride and I just went with it. I’m proud of being here.”

Then, Zwarich paused and took a deep breath. She gathered herself and continued about what she will miss most.

“Just the girls,” Zwarich said. “Just being around the team. Just being part of the team.”

NU trailed 38-28 after a first half that saw JMU rip off a 16-0 run that began with 11:41 left and ended six minutes later when junior center Meredith Alexis, the game’s high scorer with 30 points and 16 rebounds, hitting a jumper and giving JMU a 33-17 lead with 5:01 left in the half.

Huskies coach Willette White said of Alexis: “She’s a big kid. I thought there were moments where we did well on her. [Sophomore forward] Stefanie Hodell could match her strength. But it was [Alexis’] size and her strength that we really struggled with.”

Hodell led NU with 15 points and seven rebounds, while sophomore guard Shaleyse Smallwood dished out seven assists.

In the second, the Huskies went on a run of their own, outscoring the Dukes 15-1 to take a 43-39 lead with 12:02 to go after freshman guard Ashlee Feldman hit a three. The Dukes went the first 8:51 of the second without a field goal.

“It was a game of runs,” White said. “I thought we were the most aggressive team at that point. And then JMU came at us and we backed down a little bit. That’s what we have to do is kind of survive someone’s hit and kind of hit back – not literally, obviously.”

But the Huskies couldn’t hit back. After five straight points by Alexis, JMU took the lead for good at 44-43.

The Dukes effective zone defense prevented NU from attacking the basket; JMU swarmed NU’s ball-handlers, clogged the passing lanes and prevented the Huskies from establishing any sort of rhythm down the stretch.

“We were settling for passing around the horn,” White said. “We talked about attacking. When we attacked with the penetrating pass or when we attacked off the dribble, we made some things happen.”

Still, Zwarich said she was excited to see how hard her squad played against a top team and foresees a bright future ahead for the program.

“I think that’s the most heart and pride that I’ve seen us have,” Zwarich said. “We have the most talented girls Northeastern’s ever seen. I just think that it’s a matter of getting everything in place.”

“As much as we’ve had our ups and downs, it’s a special group of young ladies,” said White of this year’s senior class.

On Sunday, the Huskies (7-19, 3-14) faced Delaware (20-6, 12-5) on the road and lost 73-51. Sheppard lead NU with 14 points and nine rebounds.

But the Fightin’ Blue Hens’ junior guard Tyresa Smith proved to be too much for NU, as she led all scorers with 23 points. Hens’ sophomore guard Melissa Czorniewy added 21 points and NU trailed by no fewer than nine points throughout the second half.

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