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Huskies hungry to take success to the next level

The 2012-13 women’s basketball season marked the program’s most successful campaign since joining the Colonial Athletic Association in 2005. The team won 17 games and posted its first winning record in 13 years. Though last season’s top two scorers have graduated, head coach Daynia La-Force is confident the team has a strong foundation of leadership and skill to build on that success.

The Huskies’ goal is to improve its postseason play. Last season, the team lost to Hofstra in the opening round of the CAA tournament.

“It’s time for our program to take the next step,” said La-Force, who earned her first CAA Coach of the Year award last season. “That means being able to start the season playing well but also finish playing well, something that we haven’t been able to do consistently. It will be real test of our maturity throughout the season.”

La-Force is excited to unleash the Huskies’ speed, depth, and versatility, starting with the season opener Friday night at Boston University. Northeastern edged BU, 73-62, in their matchup last season.

Head coach Daynia La-Force has high expectations for the Huskies this season, after the team posted 17 victories last season.

Head coach Daynia La-Force has high expectations for the Huskies this season, after the team posted 17 victories last season.

The team’s home opener is scheduled for Wednesday, Nov. 13 at Matthews Arena against Rutgers. The Scarlett Knights feature eight returning letter winners along with highly touted freshman point guard Tyler Scaife.

Northeastern returnees include lone senior Jewel Tunstull and junior co-captains Amencie Mercier and A’lece Mark, but La-Force envisions contributions from all 11 players. That depth, she said, will be critical on the defensive side of the ball, as the Huskies plan to utilize their speed and athleticism to press and pressure ball-handlers early and often. “Our personnel changed this season,” she said. “We’re quicker and scrappier, but we’re also smaller. We need to defend all 90 feet … and we’ll use our size and skills to our advantage.”

Head coach Danyia La-Force said that senior Jewel Tunstull, center, is a candidate for CAA Player of the Year.

The Huskies’ lone senior Jewel Tunstull was named to the Preseason All CAA first team. Head coach Daynia La-Force believes she’ll be in the running for CAA Player of the Year.

Up and down the roster, players are primed to make an impact in a variety of ways.  Tunstull, a center, whom La-Force described as a CAA Player of the Year candidate, is quick for her position and can score and rebound in the paint. Mark, a 5-foot-7-inch guard who will play the 1, 2, and 3 positions, is aggressive at both ends of the floor, while her passion and hard work, La-Force said, can “ignite her teammates.” Sophomore Tiffany Montagne’s ability to get to the rim and shoot threes has made her a consistent scorer in team scrimmages, while forward Samantha DeFreese will move to her more natural fit on the perimeter. Sophomores Onia Webb, Sade Iriah, and Kazzidy Stewart are also expected to contribute quality minutes.

Solid team chemistry will complement the Huskies’ on-court play. “We’re a family,” said Mark, who noted that the Huskies eat breakfast together every morning at Rebecca’s Café. “I feel like that will really help us this season.”

La-Force hopes this chemistry will help the team conquer adversity and avoid the lapses in focus and productivity that crept into the Huskies’ play last season.

“We must do the little things in order to keep our opponents from gaining the confidence to get back into games,” said La-Force, pointing to things like boxing out, taking good shots, and rebounding offensively. “Last season we lost at least five games we should’ve won. It bothered us, and it will keep us hungry this season.”