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New level

Southern New Hampshire University's Amra Elezovic raises team to new level, coach says

New Hampshire Union Leader

November 20. 2013 9:54PM

SNHU's Amra Elezovic, reaches to shoot on basket by Saint Anselm's Tori Lehr, in the second half, at Southern New Hampshire University, on Wednesday, in Manchester. (Thomas Roy/Union Leader)

MANCHESTER — There was no hesitation from Southern New Hampshire University women’s basketball head coach Karen Pinkos after she was asked how the off-season acquisition of sophomore Amra Elezovic has impacted her club.

“She puts us at a different level,” said Pinkos. “She’s a talent, the total package on offense who has the ability to score inside and outside.”

That was evident Wednesday night when Elezovic netted a game-high 25 points to lead the Penmen to a 71-63 Northeast-10 Conference victory against rival St. Anselm College at the SNHU Fieldhouse.

Elezovic, who entered Wednesday night’s game averaging 18 points and 6.3 rebounds, had 17 points by halftime against the Hawks. She had three three-pointers in the first 20 minutes including one in the final seconds before intermission, giving the Penmen a 40-37 lead.

She finished the game shooting 9 of 19 from the field including three-of-six from three-point land. She added six rebounds.

SNHU (3-1 overall, 1-0 NE-10) was also led by Bianca Langford who had nine points and nine boards. Brooke Springfield and Erin Doherty each added nine points.

The Hawks (3-2, 0-2 NE-10), who never led in the second half, received 12 points from Meg Morrissey and 11 from Tori Lehr. Candace Andrews contributed 10 points and eight rebounds and Allie Jones had 10 points and five boards.

Elezovic, a graduate of Manchester Memorial, was recruited by UMass-Lowell last season, but the 5-foot-11 guard-forward opted to leave for a chance to play closer to home.

“We tried to recruit her when she was at Memorial,” said Pinkos. “She just played terrific on the high school level and her team benefitted by making a couple of runs towards a state title.”Elezovic, under head coach Jack Quirk, who is now the boys’ head coach at Memorial, helped lead the Crusaders to consecutive Final Four appearances in the Division I tournament during her junior and senior seasons.

“When she decided to leave Lowell and had interest in coming to us, we obviously wanted her, but we definitely wanted to make sure this was also the right place and fit for her,” said Pinkos, who said Elezovic is still a work in progress on defense.“She left a program that was averaging 86 points a game, a program I believe emphasized offense,” said Pinkos. “We told Amra we’d welcome her offense, but that she had to learn and adapt to a defensive system we use. Defensively she still has a way to go, but like I told my coaching staff, this isn’t going to happen overnight. It’s going to take time.”

During her playing days at Memorial, Elezovic sometimes displayed frustration on the court, prompting coach Quirk to sit her on bench just to cool off .

Pinkos sees that as a good thing.

“Her frustration is misunderstood,” said Pinkos. “I think I know her enough by now to say Amra is a very competitive player who wants to win. She’s also a basketball junkie. She’s watches the NBA, keeps track of just about every team and score in our own league. She has love and passion for the game and to me, that’s everything you want from a player.”

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