Women’s basketball splits CAA games, continues to build confidence

Women’s basketball splits CAA games, continues to build confidence
Third-year forward Gabby Giacone drives to the basket against Drexel in a Jan. 19 game in Cabot Center. / Photo by Alex Melagrano

By John Hagerty, deputy sports editor

Over the course of her tenure, head coach Kelly Cole has changed what Northeastern’s women’s basketball looks like.

When Cole took the job in 2014, she implemented a brand-new system focused on heavy ball movement and a high volume of 3-pointers.

The team has improved their grasp of Cole’s strategy and basketball philosophy. Now, they are starting to have the confidence and belief in themselves, which she feels could take them to the next level.

“Last year we started to understand more of the X’s and O’s,” Cole said. “This year our biggest improvements have come mentally with confidence, with believing we are capable of winning some of these games. Sometimes that’s the difference.”

The Huskies split their set of games this past weekend, moving their record to 10-10 for the season.

In their game against the University of Delaware Friday night, the Huskies dictated throughout, following their game plan and pouring in 3-pointers. The team made 12 triples and won the turnover margin handily, forcing 17 Blue Hen turnovers compared to their 10.

In their 64-53 win, Cole found that driving and kicking to open shooters unlocked their offense against Delaware.

“We had some early penetration, and then we got them in a position where they were scrambling which is what left us open for some comfortable threes,” Cole said. “We did what we set out to do and were knocking shots down.”

Eight of the 12 threes came from third-year guard Jess Genco and fifth-year guard Claudia Ortiz, who have been consistent scorers for the Huskies all season, averaging 14.9 points per game and 13 points per game, respectively.

First-year guard Stella Clark also chipped in with six points off the bench. Cole pointed out that bench production will be increasingly important as the team continues their season.

“It’s going to be huge,” Cole said. “We have a lot of players on the bench who could give us that spark. There’s a lot of options.”

In addition to Clark, first-year guard Jasmin Watson and third-year guard Zoe Zwerling pose threats for opposing teams among their group of reserves.

In their second game of the weekend on Sunday, the Huskies faced Drexel University, a team they had lost to in a 69-58 loss at home in their most recent meeting on Jan. 19.

Against the Dragons, the Huskies were not able to get the same offensive output they had found against Delaware. The Dragon defense threw off their tempo, causing missed shots.

“Their defense frustrated us and turned up our tempo,” Cole said. “They were good shots but we weren’t taking them at our tempo.”

The Huskies trailed throughout the first half and went into the break down by 6. Despite Drexel’s stingy defense, in the fourth quarter the Huskies had a breakthrough, with a three from third-year forward Gabby Giacone starting an 8-0 run in which NU took a 48-45 lead. Giacone finished the game with 11 points and 6 rebounds.

After their run, the Huskies only scored two points in the last six minutes of the game and the Dragons led 58-50 at the final buzzer.

“We just didn’t finish the way we would have hoped,” Cole said. “It was a good game, we made a lot of really good adjustments from the last time we played them. They made plays down the stretch and we didn’t.”

This weekend, the team continues their busy CAA schedule with a two-game homestand at Cabot Center against the University of North Carolina at Wilmington and Delaware.

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