Hofstra women’s basketball put together arguably its best performance of the season Wednesday to advance to the second round of the CAA tournament in a 77-66 win over Towson at the JMU Convocation C.
Krystal Luciano led the way, nearly putting up a triple-double with 18 points, nine boards and eight assists.
Luciano was one of four Pride players to score in double figures, but solid all-around defense was the catalyst for this victory.
Hofstra played the entirety of the contest in a 2-3 zone, clogging the middle of the paint and forcing Towson to take outside shots. The zone seemed to work for the Pride as Towson’s offense seemed disjointed from the start, resulting in turnovers and poor shot choices. Hofstra took advantage of Towson’s meager offense early on, flying down the court and turning poor shots into transition buckets.
Hofstra had 12 points in transition while Towson had none for the game.
The tone was set early on when Luciano stepped into a passing lane and took it to the hoop all by herself for the easy layup to give Hofstra a 2-0 lead that they would never relinquish.
Secondary scorers stepped up for the Pride early on and took the pressure off star players Luciano and Durant. Marianne Kalin put up 12 points on an efficient 6-7 shooting. Aleana Leon lit up the scoreboard in the first half on her way to 14 total points. Even seldom used Ana Hernandez Gil made her presence felt offensively with eight points of her own.
Hofstra led by 11 at the half and 22 at the end of the third before Towson finally tried to make some defensive adjustments.
In desperation mode, Towson sent a full court trap after the Pride ball-handlers and played in an unusual 1-3-1 zone.
The switch worked for the Tigers to an extent as they cut their deficit in half, but it proved to be a case of too little too late.
Raven Bankston put up a valiant effort to get Towson afloat with a monstrous 30 points, but the rest of her teammates couldn’t help her as Hofstra continued to build their lead.
Towson trotted out a much bigger team than Hofstra with three players who were 6-foot-4-inches or taller, but the Pride battled inside, crashed the boards and outrebounded Towson 39-31.
This win really shows how far Hofstra has come as a team this season. Towson beat Hofstra twice early in the season, but the Pride won the contest that mattered most as they will advance to the CAA quarterfinals to play Elon, Thursday at noon.
With the win, the Pride improve to 13-17 while Towson ends their season 12-18.