Huskies Sweep Season Series Over UMass With 4-2 Win Saturday Night

By: Josh Brown

BOSTON- Coming into Saturday night’s game against the University of Massachusetts Amherst, Northeastern, unbeaten in 12 of their last 13 games, can credit a portion of that success to the power play.

Clicking at a 25.6% pace in their last 12 games entering Saturday (the seventh highest clip in the nation during that span), the Huskies were handed seven more opportunities on a silver platter in the second matchup of a home-and-home between the two teams, and Northeastern made sure to make the most of it.

Behind three goals on the man-advantage and one more even strength, the Huskies, once 1-11-2, improved to 12-13-5 on the year and took control of sixth place in Hockey East with a 4-2 win over Massachusetts (8-19-4, 2-14-4).

“That was a big focus going into tonight’s game,” said Nolan Stevens of the team’s work on the power play. “Just keep it simple and get pucks on net, and I think we did a good job of being patient, waiting for seams to open up, and being opportunistic when the scoring chances came.”

Penalties were the story of the game from the get-go, with 44 total minutes assessed between the two teams, including a 10-minute misconduct on UMass at the end of the second period which resulted in the ejection of Minutemen coach John Micheletto.

After five different Huskies scored in the team’s 5-0 route over UMass Friday night, balanced scoring was a continued theme on Saturday, with three different Huskies lighting the lamp. Nolan Stevens scored two for Northeastern.

“I didn’t think we had the same mentality or mindset we had going into the game yesterday,” said Northeastern coach Jim Madigan. “I thought we cheated a little bit thinking it was going to be a little bit easier than what it is. In this league every opponent you play is good and you can’t look at records.”

“Last night’s game was a 5-0 win and I think we thought it was going to be a little bit easier, particularly when we went up 2-0 early, our details and habits suffered a little bit.”

Northeastern got the scoring going at the 7:08 mark of the first period, courtesy of a power play goal by defenseman Garret Cockerill who upped his point’s streak to three games.

With Austin Plevy off for hooking and the Huskies cycling the puck in their offensive zone, Dylan Sikura sent the puck across the blue line to Cockerill who one-timed it past UMass goalie Alex Wakaluk (25 saves).

Continuing to pressure the Minutemen in their offensive zone, it took just over four minutes for Northeastern to extend the lead to two.

Playing down on the goal line in Northeastern’s offensive zone, assistant captain John Stevens found his brother Nolan streaking in the slot and hit him with a pass that the sophomore was able to one-time past the glove of Wakaluk.

“We’ve been working on reading off each other,” said Nolan Stevens. “I saw him (John Stevens) coming down the boards so I left it for him and then I just tried to beat my guy to the net and he made a good move on his guy to get loose, and he just fed it to me and it sweeped through the goalies arm.”

Instead of rolling over, UMass would fight back, cutting the deficit to one with just under five minutes to go in the frame.

Skating through the neutral zone into attacking territory, Ray Pigozzi sent a puck down low, in what initially looked like an easy save for Northeastern netminder Ryan Ruck (28 saves).

Out of nowhere, sophomore Anthony Petrella flew down the right side of the ice, screening Ruck and ultimately tipping the puck past him for his second goal of the season.

With a renewed sense of urgency on both sides following the goal, the play got chippy, resulting in a Kurt Keats boarding penalty at 18:48, and matching roughing penalties between Nolan Stevens and William Lagesson as time expired in the first.

Entering the second period with a bit more energy than the first, the Minutemen controlled time of possession for the opening five minutes, and finally at the 5:53 mark were able to get something to show for it via Maddison Smiley’s first of the season.

Cutting to the slot Smiley received a pass from Joseph Widmar and was able to sneak it under the glove of Ruck to tie the game at two.

From there, penalties continued to kill any momentum UMass would briefly possess, including when Ben Gallacher and Callum Fryer were both sent off simultaneously with just under seven minutes to go in the second giving Northeastern a five-on-three.

The Huskies made relatively quick work of the two-man advantage, scoring just 36 seconds later to up their lead to 3-2.

Playing along the left faceoff dot, freshman Adam Gaudette cycled the puck to defenseman Matt Benning at the point. Looking for the open man, Benning tossed it over to Nolan Stevens at the right dot who proceeded to shoot it top shelf for his 13th of the season.

Both teams continued to trade penalties in the third period with Northeastern taking four (8 minutes) and UMass whistled for three (6 minutes). With play continually being stopped to send someone to the box, neither team could get much rhythm until Zach Aston-Reese beat Wakaluk with just over three minutes to go, putting victory well in reach.

Once again Nolan and John Stevens were moving the puck between each from high-to-low, when Aston-Reese found an opening along the right faceoff dot. John Stevens quickly shuffled a pass down to the junior who then fired it top shelf to give Northeastern a 4-2 lead.

“I thought our power play was excellent,” said Madigan. “I thought or penalty kill was excellent today. Our special teams did the job for us, they won the game for us here tonight.”

“One of the players said coming into the locker room after the game ‘hey not pretty but we found a way to win’ and that’s what it amounts to. Two points are hard to come by, particularly this time in the season.”

Northeastern Wins Second Straight With 70-60 Victory Over Drexel

By: Mack Krell

After beating Drexel on the road this past Thursday night, Northeastern came home and beat Drexel 70-60 in Matthews Arena on Saturday afternoon.

Northeastern (14-13, 6-8 CAA) got off to a hot start in this contest, leading 28-15 midway through the first half. This was thanks to some strong early shooting by David Walker and Jeremy Miller. Up 15-12 7 minutes into the game, Northeastern went on a 10-0 run fueled by strong defense and two three pointers from veteran leaders on the team, David Walker and Quincy Ford. This put Northeastern up by 13 points, and Drexel never got within 8 points after that point. Ford and Walker ultimately led the team in scoring; Walker finished with 21 points and 5 assists and Ford finished with 16 points, 5 rebounds, and 4 assists.

“You couldn’t ask for better guys to coach or better people to represent your program,“ said Coach Bill Coen discussing the leadership of Ford and Walker. “[They] put themselves in the record book but did it in a way that was never really about them; it was always about the team.”

Northeastern was able to build a 15-point lead going into the half through finding good shots and shooting the ball well. In the first half, Northeastern shot 14-23 (60.9%) from the field and 9-15 (60%) from three-point range in the first half.

In the second half, Drexel competed with Northeastern, cutting the lead to eight with 3:26 to go in the game. Drexel was able to take advantage of their size advantage down low and continuously attacked the paint with their leading scorer Rodney Williams. Williams finished the game with 23 points, and also forced some of Northeastern’s big men into foul trouble in the second half.

After the game, Coach Coen discussed the struggles Northeastern had tonight stopping Rodney Williams.

“First, he’s a good player; he’s tough to guard. Second, we have a young frontcourt. We had three freshman give it a try and that’s an experienced player.”

Coen also discussed the trouble Northeastern has had this season guarding the low post. “We know that’s been an issue for us: foul trouble on the interior all year long. We gotta get a little stingier with that, whether that’s our guards coming down to help or our big men playing better position defense.”

Despite Drexel’s small run in the second half, Northeastern was able to close out the game with free throw shooting down the stretch. Northeastern finished 15-18 (83.3%) from the free throw line for the game.

Looking forward, Northeastern travels to James Madison (19-7, 9-4 CAA) to play on Thursday, February 18th. Matthew MacCormack and Dan McLoone will be on the call.

 

 

 

Northeastern Ends Six Game Losing Streak, Edges Towson 47-44

By: Matthew MacCormack

It certainly wasn’t pretty, but the Huskies did just enough Thursday night to escape Towson with a 47-44 victory and snap a six-game losing streak.

Northeastern (13-13, 5-8 CAA) led by as many as 11 points with 11:40 remaining, but once again stumbled down the stretch and allowed the Tigers to claw their way back in the game, thanks in part to the 20 offensive rebounds corralled by Towson’s bigs.

A three pointer from sophomore guard Mike Morsell put Towson (17-9, 8-5 CAA) within a point, 45-44, just under the three-minute mark. But the Tigers missed their final four shots and turned the ball over twice down the stretch, and two late free throws from Devon Begley sealed the deal.

“Obviously it’s a relief for all our guys to get the win and it gives an opportunity for all our guys to believe again,” said Northeastern coach Bill Coen, who had watched his side drop seven of eight after a 3-0 start to conference play. “Hopefully we can build on this and build some momentum heading into [the CAA tournament in] Baltimore.”

David Walker (18 points, five rebounds) was the only Husky in double figures, and it was the senior guard’s three point shooting (four of 9 from deep) that ultimately gave NU the edge. After a Morsell free throw tied the game at 25 with 17:56 to play, the Huskies pieced together a 15-4 run. Walker canned three triples in that stretch, helping NU to a 40-29 lead with under 12 minutes to play.

True to their season form, the Huskies proceeded to hit just two of their final 12 shots.

Junior forward John Davis kept the Tigers in the game, scoring nine of his 18 points in the second half. Towson entered the game averaging the 13th most offensive rebounds per contest in the nation (14.0), and the Tigers continuously kept possessions alive with second-chance boards.

Coen used a 2-3 zone for the entire game, which hurt his team’s rebounding ability but also stymied the Towson offense. The Tigers shot 31% from the field and just 9% from three, and leading scorer William Adala Moto (14.6 ppg) scored just four points on two of 9 shooting.

The Huskies also limited Towson to an eight of 15 clip from the charity stripe. The Tigers had taken the third most free throws in the nation (27.5 per game) prior to tipoff.

“They’re one of the best teams in the country at getting fouled, so we deployed the 2-3 zone to start to try and stay out of foul trouble. It did limit their shooting percentage but they were able to get a ton of offensive rebounds,” Coen said. “I think we really did a nice job. We just have to clean up on the rebounding aspect of it.”

Northeastern jumped out to a quick 10-5 lead thanks to six early points from Jeremy Miller. The freshman center finishes with eight points and four rebounds, and was limited to 28 minutes due to foul trouble.

Neither side could get their offense going in the first frame, as Northeastern went into the locker room with a 23-22 lead after a Walker three rimmed out at the buzzer.

Davis made it 45-41 after drawing Miller’s fourth foul and converting a couple of free throws with 4:11 to play.

Morsell’s three made it a one-point game, and three consecutive NU misses gave Towson a chance to take the lead. But Adala Moto had a turnover, and then on the next possession missed a three and another jumper after an offensive board.

Begley was fouled on the ensuing inbounds, and hit two from the stripe to push the lead to 47-44.

Morsell missed a three with 5 seconds to go, but another Towson offensive bound kept things alive. The sophomore then missed a contested jumper at the buzzer.

Northeastern freshman point guard Brandon Kamga did not travel with the team. Coen said Kamga has a chance to play in Saturday afternoon’s bout with Drexel (3-21, 1-12 CAA) at Matthews Arena.

Huskies Lose Fifth Straight 86-77 to William & Mary

By: Matthew MacCormack

David Walker caught the ball on the left wing midway through the second half of Thursday night’s battle with William & Mary. He hesitated, then took a dribble towards the paint, where Tribe guard Greg Malinowski stood waiting.

Malinowski poked the ball from Walker’s reach, sending it high in the air. Before Walker could recover, Malinowski whipped an outlet pass, igniting a WM fast break.

All it took was two seconds for the ball to end up in the hands of Tribe forward Omar Prewitt, who sliced through the defense and finished an easy transition layup at the left block.

It was a sequence that seemed to epitomize Northeastern’s 86-77 loss – the Huskies’ fifth straight conference defeat. Behind a 13-point, five-assist first half effort from David Walker, the Huskies jumped out to a 37-31 halftime lead, and led by as many as 10 points early in the second half.

But for the third time in as many outings, Walker and the Husky offense sputtered down the stretch. NU succumbed to a 22-8 William & Mary run that started with a slashing layup from Prewitt with 17 minutes to play – two of the 56 points the Tribe accrued in the paint. From there, a 43-36 NU advantage morphed into a 58-51 Tribe lead with nine minutes left: a deficit the Huskies failed to overcome. During the stretch, Northeastern went just two of 12 from the field.

“We had some really critical turnovers in the second half that led to easy baskets,” Head Coach Bill Coen said. “You just can’t leave the door with a crack open with an experienced team like this.”

Although Walker can’t take all the blame for the second-half offensive woes, he certainly contributed. The senior guard chipped in greatly (19 points, eight assists), but was held scoreless for the first 16 minutes of the second half until nailing a triple to bring the WM lead back down to 72-65.

“I think he scored enough tonight for us to win. I don’t want him to take bad shots,” Coen said. “He’s creating a lot of offense for us.”

Redshirt senior forward and second-leading scorer Quincy Ford missed his fourth straight game with injury, prompting Coen to play Ford’s brother, freshman Sajon, and fellow freshman Brandon Kamga for a combined 29 minutes.

“Taking [Ford] off the floor and inserting some freshman: you’re going to have some two for 12 moments,” Coen said.

Prewitt was sensational, abusing Northeastern in the paint to the tune of a season-high 28 points and five rebounds. The junior sharpshooter (34.2% from deep on the season) did so without even hitting a three, as Prewitt got whatever he wanted down low.

“A couple of times, he was very, very patient and made shots,” Coen said. “Other times he had the presence of mind to find someone else under four seconds, where other players panic.”

Junior guard Daniel Dixon chipped in 20 points, five boards and three assists.

Dixon was instrumental in helping the Tribe jump out to an early lead, pushing the pace and scoring his team’s first seven points, all in transition.

Jeremy Miller proved once again to be a legit scoring option for the Huskies, as the freshman tallied 23 points (4-6 3pt FG) in just 19 minutes of play. Miller missed a lot of time due to foul trouble, as the center struggled with the more experienced Tribe big men.

T.J Williams (11 pts) continued his resurgence, and remained the only Husky capable of creating his own shot in the lane. Williams tallied nine points and two assists in the final eight minutes in an ultimately futile effort to keep the Huskies in the game.

The freshman duo of Kamga and Ford contributed a combined eight rebounds in fill-in duty.

“The silver lining is our younger guys are getting experience. We’re getting a little bit deeper and we’re learning a little bit about ourselves,” Coen said. “We’re learning how hard it is to get a victory.”