HARRISONBURG -- Daynia La-Force Mann said it takes a focused "emotional" effort to beat Old Dominion, the Colonial Athletic Association's preeminent women's basketball team, winners of 17 straight titles from 1992-2008.
One minute into the second half of Friday's CAA tournament quarterfinal, the Northeastern coach knew that wasn't going to happen.
At the 19-minute mark, the Huskies' Brittany Wilson got tangled up with ODU's Kquanise Byrd going for a loose ball. Wilson slammed her head into the floor. Byrd fell on her, and Wilson hit her head again. Wilson then had a seizure and play stopped for about 10 minutes.
EMTs took Wilson, wearing an oxygen mask, off the court on a gurney, and the Huskies -- who, led by Wilson, rallied from 21 points down in the first half to cut ODU's lead to seven by halftime -- never recovered.
The top-seeded Monarchs cruised from there, rolling to a 68-49 win at James Madison's Convocation Center to advance the CAA semifinals today at against fifth-seeded Delaware.
ODU also avenged a triple-overtime loss to Northeastern on Jan. 7.
"To beat a team like Old Dominion, you need an emotional, emotional effort," La-Force Mann said after the
game. "And when something like this happens, it really takes a lot out of you. And we're a young team, and I think it really hit us hard, and we couldn't fight with that emotion that we needed to beat a great program like Old Dominion."
The Monarchs (17-12) opened the game an 18-2 run, aided by 14 first-half Northeastern turnovers.
But the Huskies (13-18) rallied at in the final 5:58. Wilson, a sophomore guard and a third-team all-conference selection, scored all of her Northeastern-best 10 points in that span to get the eighth-seeded Huskies within seven at halftime, 30-23.
That all ended with Wilson's seizure, which happened to the right of the Northeastern hoop on the far end of the Convocation Center.
"I think Byrd tripped and fell on her," said ODU junior guard Jasmine Parker, who had 10 points, six rebounds and four assists. "Kind of made her neck go another way, and then, she just started shaking."
The Northeastern players never looked or felt the same.
"I could tell right when it happened, when I turned around and seen everyone crying," said Northeastern senior forward Kim Carr, whose voice shook as she spoke about Wilson. "Her best friend [Kashaia Cannon] is on the team, and I could just tell she was out of it. She didn't want to shoot. I think at one point, she actually wanted to go to the bathroom during the game. But we were out of it. It hit us hard."
La-Force Mann said Wilson was talking and laughing after the game, but the coach did not know the extent of Wilson's injuries.
Wilson was moving her arms as she was taken off the floor, but the game had a different tone from then on.
"Any time something like that happens in game, it's traumatic not just for the team that she belongs to; it's also fairly traumatic to the team that's playing against her," ODU coach Wendy Larry said.
Still, ODU -- led by senior forward Jessica Canady, who had game highs with 15 points and seven rebounds -- managed. In the second half, the Monarchs gradually pushed its lead back to the 18-20-point range, returning to the form they showed in the first 15 minutes.
"We started tripping to be quite honest," Larry said of the late first-half swoon. "Didn't care of balls, tried to make things happen quickly and kind of allowed Northeastern to get back into a very confident mode. That being said, we came out of the locker room in the same fashion that we started in the first half, and at that point in time, it was never really a competition as far as the closeness of the game."
Lady Monarchs beat Northeastern, Huskies stunned by teammate's seizure
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