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'They trust each other and believe in each other'

Northeastern has won the first seven games of the season. Photo by Jim Pierce/Northeastern University

Only 4.4 seconds remained in Northeastern’s contest with UMass on Sunday, and the Huskies trailed by two points with no timeouts remaining. As Jess Genco, the women’s basketball team’s leading scorer, received an inbounds pass and rushed up the court, she realized she wouldn’t have time to get off a good, clean shot. So Genco fired a deft pass to Shannon Todd, who was wide open, and knocked down the game-winning three-pointer.  

The sequence exemplified the trust and teamwork that head coach Kelly Cole said has been a key catalyst in the 7-0 start to the Huskies’ season.

“They trust each other and believe in each other, on good days and bad days,” said Cole, who is now in her fifth season as head coach. “We talk every day about getting better, not just getting wins. They’ve bought into that philosophy.”

Northeastern heads into Wednesday’s game ranked No. 13 in the Women’s Mid-Major Top 25 poll, which includes the best teams from 23 conferences that are outside the top conferences in the country. This is the first season under Cole’s leadership that the Huskies have been ranked in the poll. The Huskies are also No. 24 in the NCAA RPI rankings, a ratings system that takes into account teams’ winning percentage, road victories, and strength of schedule.

Northeastern battles Boston University. Photo by Jim Pierce/Northeastern University

While Cole is happy with the fast start, which ties the best in the program’s history, Northeastern has its eyes on a higher prize.

“Our goal is to win a CAA championship,” she said, referring to the Colonial Athletic Association. “In order to do that, it doesn’t matter how many wins you have in non-conference. It’s ‘how good can we be come March?’”

The Huskies’ match with Fairfield on Wednesday night marks the first of three consecutive road games for the Huskies before they return home to host Maine on Dec. 22. Then the team kicks off its conference schedule.

The Huskies’ early-season success includes wins over Florida, which marked Northeastern’s first win against a team in the Power Five conferences (the ACC, Big 10, Big 12, Pac 12, and SEC) since joining the Colonial Athletic Association, and Dayton, which made the NCAA Tournament last season.

“Team chemistry is the highest it’s been [since I’ve been here],” said Gabby Giacone, a senior forward who is averaging 8.7 points and 5.1 rebounds per game this season. “This is the most talented team I’ve been a part of at Northeastern.”

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