In an appetizer to an upcoming grueling Thanksgiving weekend schedule, the Hofstra women’s basketball team won a rare mid-week matinee with Albany today 62-49 for the program’s first 3-0 start in a dozen years. Hofstra will not have much time to savor today’s victory though as in just two days the Pride will be at Gampel Pavilion taking on defending national champion Connecticut in the first of three games at the WBCA Classic.
Late tomorrow morning while most people are getting set to enjoy their Thanksgiving meals, the Hofstra will be boarding a bus for Storrs, Conn., where the Pride will spend the next three days taking on the number-one ranked Huskies, Clemson and Richmond. Despite posting a relatively easy win over Albany today, head coach Krista Kilburn-Steveskey said in the post-game press conference that the Pride will have to perform far better this weekend to come out of Gampel Pavilion with any success.
“We’ve got to play a lot better basketball and heighten our senses a little bit to be a little more effective from the start,” said Kilburn-Steveskey.
Hofstra achieved its first 3-0 start since the 1997/98 season thanks to a pair of double-doubles from senior Jess Fuller (15 points and 15 rebounds) and freshman Shante Evans (12 points and 10rebounds). Sophomore Joelle Connelly nearly made it three Pride players with a double-double chipping in seven points and nine rebounds.
Albany hung close with Hofstra in the first half only trailing 30-26 at halftime but an 18-8 start out of the locker room gave the Pride a 50-34 lead with 11 minutes left for its largest of the game. Red-shirt sophomore point guard Candice Bellochio, on the heels of a Hofstra record 14 assists at St. Francis College (NY) last week, had another successful with eight points and six assists. Bellochio’s Staten Island backcourt mate Nicole Capurso also had a solid offensive effort with nine points and three assists.
Friday’s battle at UConn will have the feel of a David vs. Goliath affair as the Huskies have won its first three games by an average of 57 points including an 83-58 romp of 10th ranked Texas. However the Pride are going into this Herculean challenge with an attitude that they can compete for 40 minutes with the number-one team in the land. “We’re looking to go out there and compete and give them a run for our money,” said Bellochio. “We’re coming at them and we’re ready to go and treating it as a challenge.”