Women’s basketball sweeps cross-town rival UNH
Mike Riccio – Special to the Southern News
Abby Hurlbert finished with 26 points and a career high six 3-pointers as the Owls swept the season series against the University of New Haven Chargers 69-50.
Hurlbert has scored at least 20 points in three consecutive games and is coming off a week in which she was named the NE10 Player of the Week. Hurlbert said her 3-point shooting and being aggressive has contributed to her success this season.
“My 3’s have been falling and I’ve been able to get some open looks,” Hurlbert said. “When they’re not falling I just look to drive it.”
Just two years ago as a sophomore, Hurlbert was coming off the bench for the Owls before being used in an expanded role in her junior and now senior seasons. Head Coach Kate Lynch said Hurlbert has risen to the challenge and has had a huge impact for the Owls this season.
“She leads by example and she’s doing great right now,” Lynch said “She’s a player that loves to win and she makes her teammates better, and you can tell that every single time she steps on the floor.”
After losing four of their previous five games, the Owls (16-7, 10-5) won all three games on their home stand and moved into a tie for first place in the Southwest Division in the NE10. Southern recorded its first season sweep of New Haven (8-12, 4-11) for the first time since the 2011-2012 season.
The Owls made 15 of the 31 3-pointers they took, the most 3-pointers they’ve made in a game since Dec. 29, 2016, and did not trail for the entire game. Senior captain Murphy Murad contributed to three of those 3’s, and added 11 points of her own. She said her teammates have helped her stay confident shooting from long range.
“I’m very comfortable shooting 3’s; my percentage might not say that this season, but it’s really because my teammates,” Murad said. “They’ve been so supportive regardless of whether they’re falling or not and they keep encouraging me to shoot. I just let them fly today and they went in.”
Murad also set a career high in steals with five, all in the first half, and said the goal defensively was to force the Chargers into poor shots.
“We really focused keeping them out of the paint in the last few practices and we did a good job preventing them from getting the shots they wanted,” Murad said.
Junior Alexandria Kerr led the Chargers in scoring with 12 points and added nine rebounds. Allieyah Cubbage and Brie Pergola also added 10 points each, but 3-point shooting plagued the Chargers as they did not make a single one on nine attempts.
Lynch said the team’s communication has turned the Owls defense into their strength this season and was a main reason why they were able to contain the Chargers on offense.
“We worked on keeping their players out of the paint; the last couple days of practice we’ve been doing a good job at that,” Lynch said. “We switched when we needed to switch defensively and that was our main focus, to keep them out and pressure them as much as we could.”
With only five regular season games remaining, starting with Saturday’s road game against the College of Saint Rose, Lynch said the team is still looking to improve.
“We have to focus on those little things like not giving up so many offensive rebounds, finishing plays [and] continuing to push in transition,” Lynch said. “So there’s still some things to work on, but slowly but surely we’re getting there.”
Photo Courtesy: southernctowls.com