Historic run for Northeastern women’s basketball team ends with loss to Monmouth in CAA semifinals

Northeastern's Deja Braxton was a force on the boards in the semifinal match against Monmouth Saturday.
Northeastern’s Deja Braxton was a force on the boards in the semifinal match against Monmouth Saturday. Photo by CAA

TOWSON, Md.—The magical nine-game run by the Northeastern women’s basketball team came to an end in the semifinals of the Colonial Athletic Association Women’s Basketball Tournament Saturday evening at SECU Arena on the Towson University campus.

The third-seeded Huskies fell to the seventh-seeded Monmouth Hawks, 73-60, a day after Monmouth upset second-seeded Drexel in the quarterfinals.

“I’m proud of the effort of my team. We had some moments where we showed how bright our future is. We just fell short today,” Northeastern coach Bridgette Mitchell said.

Northeastern had won its last eight regular season games and won its ninth in a row on Friday with a blowout of Stony Brook. The team finished 19-12 overall and 13-5 in the conference. Last season, the team finished 14-8 overall, and 8-10 in the CAA. 

The eight straight gave Northeastern a share of first place in the CAA regular season—a first for the program. Another first, 13 wins in conference play. 

The season was “very successful,” according to Mitchell, who was named CAA coach of the year in her second season at Northeastern.

“I think having 13 conference wins, that’s a high for us. I think that a lot of times we talk about these wins that we have, W-I-N. With our team, we’re more focused on our W-H-E-Ns,” Mitchell said. “Remember when we went to Florida and went for that Thanksgiving tournament, remember when we beat so and so, but we had that dessert and Deja (Bristol) spilled hers, dropped hers on the floor. Those moments that they create with each other are the wins that we look forward to creating.”

In addition to Mitchell’s coaching award, team members also were recognized for outstanding performances this season. 

Junior point guard Derin Erdogan, who posted two career highs Friday night in the CAA quarterfinals, 27 points and 10 assists, was named an All-CAA first-teamer. Erdogan averaged 14.7 points and 3.8 assists per game in the regular season, her first with Northeastern. 

In addition, junior forward Deja Bristol, won the CAA sixth player award, and sophomore guard Gemima Motema made the CAA All-Defensive team and the All-CAA third team. 

“Having three award winners, … having those accolades for these young women really is an accomplishment because of how hard they work. I’d say that is definitely the most recent accomplishment,” Mitchell said.

The 2022-23 season is in the books, but Mitchell is looking forward to next year with all team members expected to return and ready to continue the transformative program.

Despite the loss Saturday, Mitchell said she told her Huskies after the game that there were many positives to the season and much they can build on for next year.

“The message to my team was to challenge them to really tap into their other tools when things are taken away from them. That piece is really important. I hammered home our ability to really just focus in on us, so that we can come back next year stronger,” Mitchell said.

In the semifinal loss to Monmouth, the game slipped away from Northeastern in the third quarter as the Hawks outscored the Huskies 22-8. Northeastern’s 30-26 lead at halftime became a 10-point deficit after three quarters, 48-38.

Mitchell said Monmouth shot the ball well and played tough defense in the paint.

Monmouth shot 45% from the floor and 40% on three-pointers, compared to Northeastern’s 40% from the floor and 22% on threes.

Northeastern was led by Deja Bristol, who scored 15 points and grabbed 9 rebounds, many of which were won by sheer determination.

“I thought that Deja was a force. Deja has been and will continue to be a force in the paint. Things weren’t called in our favor. We have to let that roll off. It was a physical game, the refs let them play. We had a good group of officials out there today,” Mitchell said. “So I think that it’s a really bright future for the Huskies with Deja in the paint.”

Erdogan also had a strong game, scoring 13 points and grabbing 3 rebounds. JaMiya Braxton had 10 points, including two three-pointers. Gemima Motema finished with 7 points and 5 rebounds; Jaelyn Batts scored 6 points; Halle Idowu had 4 points and 6 rebounds; Asha Parker scored 2 and hauled in 3 rebounds; and Maddie Vizza rounded out the scoring with one three-pointer.   

Mark Conti is managing editor of Northeastern Global News. Follow him on Twitter @markconti11