Northeastern brings home the Lou Lamoriello trophy, beating BC 3-2

by Joe Barbito

BOSTON, MA – For the first time since 1988, the Huskies will have two banners hanging in TD Garden.

The Northeastern University men’s hockey team defeated Boston College 3-2 on Saturday night. Northeastern won their first Hockey East Championship since 2016, and the Eagles season ended as they will not qualify for an at-large bid in the NCAA Tournament beginning next week.

The game nearly began with a BC goal when sophomore forward Logan Hutsko knocked a puck into the net from his stomach. The officials ruled he used his arm to bat the puck in and disallowed the goal.

The Huskies got off to an out-of-character fast start, piling high danger scoring chances on junior goaltender Joe Woll early in the first period. The first beat him at 2:31 of the opening period when junior forward Matt Filipe picked up a rebound from a shot from senior forward Brandon Hawkins and deposited it in the net behind Woll.

The Huskies put another one the board quickly when Hawkins ripped a shot into the glove of Woll who failed to secure it. The loose puck sat in front of him when junior defenseman Ryan Shea took another shot off Woll’s right pad. The rebound was kicked right to Hawkins who was able to snap a wrist shot and make it 2-0.

Hawkins scored another in the first period on the power play. The odd-man advantage was an absolute clinic from Northeastern who began the power play and did not let the puck leave the zone once. With five seconds remaining on the advantage, Hawkins fired his third shot of the period past Woll and gave NU a 3-0 advantage. With that goal, Hawkins became the first play to score two opening period goals in the Hockey East Championship game since Johnny Gaudreau in 2012 for BC.

When asked how his team got off to a hot start, coach Jim Madigan said “If I knew, if I had that answer… wow. We knew BC played late last night, wanna get on them real quick. Quick to the puck to create some offensive opportunities. We got ourselves in penalty trouble and they got themselves into the game.”

In the second period the Eagles came out buzzing. Junior defenseman Jeremy Davies took a penalty with 2 seconds left in the first period which allowed BC to start the period on the power play. Just 18 seconds into the period freshman forward Oliver Wahlstrom tallied his eighth goal of his freshman campaign.

Just over 90 seconds later, junior forward David Cotton netted his 23rd of the season. The Parker, TX native had eight total shots on goal and a very complete two way game.

Early in the third period, sophomore forward Logan Hutsko fell violently into the ice behind the Northeastern goal line. The play continued on the opposite end of the ice, and it took the referees a few moments to notice. After several minutes of Hutsko laying flat on the ice, he was wheeled out on a stretcher. Coach Jerry York provided an update after the game on his status:

“Logan is moving his fingers, his toes, he’s at MGH right now… they’re doing a CT scan as we speak. There was a situation three years ago where he broke his neck in junior hockey. He’s conscious, and we hope for the best.”

Despite an onslaught of offense in the third period, sophomore goaltender Cayden Primeau had yet another performance for the ages. Finishing the game with 38 total saves, his performance along with the Northeastern defense stymied the Eagles in the third and time expired as the scoreboard read NU 3, BC 2.

He ended the game with 38 total saves, and earned yet another piece of personal hardware, the Hockey East Tournament MVP award.

The Hockey East All Tournament Team included Primeau, Shea, Davies, Hawkins and sophomore forward Zach Solow. Cotton was the lone non-Husky to make the team.

Madigan’s opening statement definitely summed it up for everyone at Norhteastern.

 

“This doesn’t ever get old, I’ll tell you that.”

 

Zach Solow Sends Northeastern Back to the Hockey East Finals as the Huskies Outlast Boston University in Overtime

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by Christian Skroce

Déjà vu. That’s what it must have felt like for the Northeastern bench as they stormed the ice to celebrate with overtime hero Zach Solow. For the second time this season, the Northeastern Huskies (27-10-1) defeated the Boston University Terriers (16-19-4) by a score of 2-1 after overtime at TD Garden, and this one was just as sweet.

The game started off slowly, with both teams just feeling each other out during the opening frame. Chances were hard to come by in the first period, and both goalies stood on their heads to keep the game scoreless through one. The Terriers finally broke the deadlock 7:39 into the second period, as sophomore forward Ty Amonte finished off a rebound in from of the net to give Boston University a 1-0 leads. Despite some chances from the Huskies to end the period, the Terriers were able to keep their lead going into the second intermission.

The BU lead didn’t last long into the final frame, as Northeastern freshman forward Tyler Madden shined once again as he tied up the contest just 16 seconds into the third period. The rest of the final period looked eerily similar to the first period, as both teams struggled to get an upper hand. Northeastern had the best chance to grab the lead at the end of the period, as the Huskies went on a power play with just under three minutes to go in regulation. Although Northeastern managed several shots, including six from senior forward Brandon Hawkins, Boston University goalie Jake Oettinger was able to keep the game knotted at one, propelling this matchup into its third overtime of the season.

The offensive struggles for both teams continued in the overtime period, while both goalies once again stood up to whatever was thrown at them. The game finally came to an end when sophomore forward Zach Solow ripped a shot past Jake Oettinger 15:44 into the overtime frame. With the goal, Solow recorded his sixth game winning goal of the season, tying a program record. The impressive play from Solow also gave Northeastern its 27th win on the year, breaking the previous program record of 26 wins in a season.

Not to be forgotten in the win is Northeastern’s sophomore goaltender Cayden Primeau. Throughout the game, Primeau stopped 29 Boston University shots, recording a 0.967 save percentage for the contest. Tonight’s game was just another in a long line of fantastic performances from Primeau this season, as his success in games at TD Garden continues.

After the game, Northeastern head coach Jim Madigan expressed his admiration for his players resilience in the third period and overtime frame, but also noted his concern over the team’s slow start to the game. As Madigan pointed out, the Huskies will have to get off to a faster start in the Championship Game, regardless of who they end up playing.

“We have a lot of momentum right now,” said Zach Solow after the game. “I’m really proud of the guys, and hopefully we can take this feeling into the next game.” Northeastern’s next game will be for the Hockey East Championship. The game will be played tomorrow night and will pit them against the winner of the second semifinal between UMASS Amherst and Boston College. WRBB will have full coverage of the Hockey East Championship Game, with pregame coverage starting at 6:45pm tomorrow night.

 

Kansas dominates Northeastern, 87-53, in NCAA Tournament

Dedric Lawson (1) and Kansas were too much for Northeastern on Thursday in Salt Lake City (Image Credit: GoNU).
Dedric Lawson (1) and Kansas were too much for Northeastern on Thursday in Salt Lake City (Image Credit: GoNU).

by Matthew MacCormack

SALT LAKE CITY — It wasn’t the effort that Northeastern hoped for.

The Huskies’ men’s basketball team made for a trendy upset pick prior to Thursday’s tip-off of the NCAA Tournament. Thanks to their experience, depth, and blistering three-point shooting, the 13-seeded Huskies looked like they might be a handful for 4-seed Kansas, which failed to win the Big 12 regular season title for the first time in 14 years.

Sounds convincing on paper. On the court, the result couldn’t have been farther off.

The Jayhawks (26-9) throttled the Huskies, 87-53, at Vivint SmartHome Arena on Thursday afternoon, in a First Round matchup in the Midwest Region. It was the Huskies’ largest defeat of the year, and the Jayhawks held Northeastern to season-lows from the floor (28% FG) and from three (21% 3PT). Kansas’ All-Big 12 First Team forward Dedrick Lawson dominated play, as the redshirt junior notched a game-high 25 points and 11 rebounds in just 27 minutes. The Jayhawks shot 56%.

“If you’re dialing up the blueprint for an upset, you need to have a great shooting night. Unfortunately it didn’t happen,” said Northeastern head coach Bill Coen.

“They turned our team, which is typically a team philosophy, into a one-on-one game. That certainly favored Kansas.”

Redshirt junior guard Jordan Roland led Northeastern (23-11) with 12 points, and redshirt senior guard Vasa Pusica added 7 points (2-13 FG) in his final game for the Huskies. Junior forward Bo Brace had 7 points, nine rebounds and four assists.

“It’s so hard to get to this stage,” Coen said.

“Everybody, in some respect, just wanted it too badly to happen. Sometimes when you try too hard, you can not perform at a high level.”

Northeastern trailed, 37-25, at half. The Huskies scored the first five points of the second frame, thanks to a jumper from a Roland, and a free throw and dunk from senior center Anthony Green.

Kansas’ lead was down to 37-30 with 17:06 remaining. It looked as if the Huskies would keep it close.

Then Kansas clamped down.

The Jayhawks ripped off a 32-6 run over the next 11 minutes, putting the game out of reach. Lawson poured in 14 points during the stretch, splashing two triples and bullying his way to four layups inside. The Huskies had no answer, even with three defenders (Brace, Green and sophomore forward Tomas Murphy) each trying their hand at guarding Lawson.

“We didn’t really have a matchup for [Lawson],” Coen said.
“Bo got him to start, but when you put him at the five it gets even more problematic for us, because he’s a guy who can take Anthony away from the basket and overpower Tomas underneath.”

Northeastern’s season-worst shooting percentage doomed them. The Kansas defense was locked in, but the Huskies missed some bunnies, and numerous threes rolled off the rim despite looking like makes.

“One thing about Northeastern is it’s so important to take away shots off the catch and make them try to score off the bounce,” said Kansas coach Bill Self.

“I didn’t feel like there was a lot of uncontested looks. Even when they made shots I felt like we had a hand in their face.”

Pusica had his second-lowest scoring output of the season. Self says the Jayhawks had a plan to suffocate the Huskies’ leading scorer (18 ppg).

“Our whole game plan was to hard hedge him, make him feel us, change directions and certainly go over every ball screen,” Self said.

“The switching helped us do that.”

Pusica, Green and forward Jeremy Miller played their final minutes for the Huskies on Thursday. Brace and Roland both had kind words for the trio of departing seniors.

“Being with them for the three years that I was was a very special opportunity,” Brace said.

“Despite the loss tonight, I’m really appreciative that I got the opportunity to play with those guys and be a part of this family group of guys. They really are special guys and I’m grateful for them.”

Men’s basketball to battle Kansas in NCAA Tournament

The Northeastern Huskies will take on the storied Kansas Jayhawks in the Round of 64.
The Northeastern Huskies will take on the storied Kansas Jayhawks in the Round of 64. (Image Credit: GoNU)

by Matthew MacCormack

BOSTON — Curry Student Center erupted as Northeastern’s name flashed on the screen during CBS’ Selection Sunday broadcast.

The Husky fans, coaches and players were excited just to get the chance to join the field of 68 teams in the NCAA Tournament. But the news delivered at Sunday’s watch party — the Huskies earned a 13 seed, and will take on 4-seed Kansas in a Thursday matchup in Salt Lake City in the Midwest Region — only heightened the excitement.

“Just to see your name pop up, it’s a dream come true for all our players and staff,” said Northeastern coach Bill Coen.

“Our first reaction is elation. Our second reaction is oh no, Kansas!”

The game will tip off at 4 p.m. on Thursday.

The Huskies (23-10) earned the Colonial Athletic Association’s automatic bid to the Big Dance after a 82-74 victory over Hofstra in the CAA Championship in Charleston. Northeastern is led by two-time All-CAA First-Team point guard Vasa Pusica (17.8 ppg, 4.2 apg, 3.9 rpg), and All-CAA Third-Team shooting guard Jordan Roland (14.7 ppg, 40.8% 3PT FG). Pusica is a redshirt senior transfer from University of San Diego, while the redshirt junior Roland transferred in from George Washington.

Northeastern’s formula relies on three-point shooting, defense and depth. The Huskies are the 16th best three-point shooting team in the country at 38.8%. Players like junior guards Shawn Occeus (10.1 ppg), Bo Brace (10 ppg) and Donnell Gresham (9.8 ppg) are huge pieces in a stingy defense that ranked at the top of the CAA. Seven different players average 8+ points per game.

Coen, in his 13th season at Northeastern, led the Huskies to the tournament in 2015, when NU fell in a close game to Notre Dame.

Kansas (25-9) finished 3rd in the Big 12, failing to win the conference’s regular season title for the first time in 14 years. The Jayhawks lost in the Big 12 championship game to Iowa State, 78-66.

“I wanted to play someone big like [Kansas] and I couldn’t be more excited,” Pusica said.

They’re led by redshirt junior forward Dedric Lawson, a 6-foot-9 presence that averages 19.1 points and 10.3 rebounds. Lawson, a transfer from Memphis, shoots 48%  from the floor and 37% from three. He could be a matchup problem for Northeastern.

The Jayhawks started four freshman in the loss to Iowa State. The lead man among those rookies is point guard Devon Dotson (12.1 ppg, 3.6 apg, 2.6 rpg).

Kansas head coach Bill Self, in his 16th season, has dealt without some of his key players down the stretch. Senior guard Lagerald Vick (14.1 ppg, 4.1 rpg, 45% 3PT FG) took a leave of absence from the team in February for personal matters, and will not return for the tournament. Seven-foot junior center Udoka Azubuike (13.4 ppg, 6.8 rpg, 71% FG) is out for the season with a hand injury.

The three ball is going to be key in this matchup, as it has been all year for the Huskies. Kansas holds opponents to 33.6% from three. When Kansas holds opponents under that average, they are 15-1. In other games, Kansas is 10-8. Essentially, Northeastern needs to hit their threes to stay in the game. Fortunately for the Huskies, they shot nearly 39% from three over the course of the season.

“Three point shooting, I think is the great equalizer and we’ve got a number of guys who can make shots,” Coen said

“If we can do that you give yourself a chance.”

Since LaGerald Vick (46% 3PT) went out for the season, the Jayhawks have shot just 33.2% from beyond the arc.

The Huskies turn the ball over on 16.7% of possessions. When they turn the ball over less than their average, they are 14-2. In all other games, they are 9-8. Kansas’ opponents turn the ball over on 18.5% of possessions.

The Jayhawks have won three national titles, with the most recent coming in 2008. The school has made 15 Final Four appearances, with Self leading Kansas to Final Four appearances in 2008, 2012 and 2018. Kansas fell to Villanova in last year’s semi-final.

“It would just make the win mean more, if we are lucky enough to win the game,” Roland said.

“It would be better to beat a team like that with all the history.”

Huskies defeat the Black Bears to sweep the quarterfinal series

by Joe Barbito

BOSTON, MA – They held on by the skin of their teeth, but the Northeastern men’s hockey team narrowly defeated the Maine Black Bears 2-1 on Saturday night.

A full team effort was required to punch their ticket to TD Garden, but key contributors like sophomore goaltender Cayden Primeau and junior defenseman Jeremy Davies helped secure a spot in the Hockey East semifinals.

Scoring opened up with just under two minutes left in the first period when senior forward Pat Schule went to work behind the Maine net and found junior forward Biagio Lerario open in space in front of the net. Lerario took the pass from Schule and launched a backhand shot to the top corner of the goal. The puck went through a hole in the net and the officials waved off the goal initially before reviewing the play. As it turned out, the puck did indeed cross the goal line and Lerario was rewarded with the first goal of the game.

Senior forward Brandon Hawkins extended the Husky lead to two when he scored a 5-on-3 power play goal with a howitzer from the blue one. Hawkins was positioned at the left side of the point and perfectly timed a one-timer from Davies. It was Hawkin’s 10th goal of the year and Davies’ 26th assist. Senior forward Liam Pecararo also earned an assist on the goal.

Maine brought the game within one on their own 5-on-3 power play. Senior defenseman Sam Becker was quarterbacking the powerplay at the top of the slot then quickly sauced a pass to freshman forward Jacob Schmidt-Svejstrup who rifled a shot past Primeau for his 6th of the year.

The third period was one of the tensest in Historic Matthews Arena recent history. Primeau made a total of 12 saves and the Husky skaters recorded 13 blocks, tallying 26 total on the evening. Freshman defenseman Jordan Harris lead the team with 6, and senior defenseman Eric Williams had 3 in the third period alone.

Schule committing a nearly fatal tripping penalty with just under five minutes left in regulation, but the dogs were able to bear down and fight off the Black Bear onslaught.

Northeastern’s opponent in the semifinals is yet to be determined, but they will play again Friday night at TD Garden.

Cornell ends Northeastern’s women’s hockey season with 3-2 OT victory

by Joe Barbitoi

BOSTON, MA – It was a dramatic conclusion to one of the best season’s in program history. Cornell freshman forward Gillis Frechette scored an overtime breakaway goal to end Northeastern’s bid for an NCAA title.

In the Husky’s first ever home NCAA tournament game, the Cornell Big Red came down from Ithaca with heavy skating and stalwart defensive play. Neither team eclipsed 30 shots on goal, and both defenses registered double digit blocks.

Scoring would open up at 13:28 into the first when junior froward Amy Curlew got the beat on sophomore goaltender Aerin Frankel from right in front of the crease. The Big Red had been buzzing all period and ended up leading the shot on goal advantage 11 to 5 when the period ended. Before the Huskies were free for the intermission, sophomore defender Skylar Fontaine committed a late body-checking penalty which put Cornell on the power play.

Excellent puck movement and a perfectly placed tip from junior forward Grace Graham sent the Huskies to the break with a 2-0 deficit. Sophomore defender Devon Facchinato fired a wrist shot from the blue line, and Graham – who was all alone in front of Frankel – earned her 11th goal of the season.

The second period would come and go without a goal, but the Huskies did fight back a bit and win the shot battle 9-5. Northeastern went on the power play twice, registering seven shots between the two advantages.

The Huskies would finally break through in the third. Junior forward Andrea Renner and sophomore forward Veronika Pettey broke into the zone in an odd-skater rush, and Renner ripped a shot high glove side that rolled off of senior goaltender Marlene Boissonnault’s shoulder. Pettey showed no quit on the play and went diving after the loose change to deposit it in the back of the net for Northeastern’s first goal at 9:32 of the period.

With just about 5 minutes left in the game, Fontaine was able to skate unimpeded into the Big Red zone. From high in the slot she ripped a wrist shot that cleanly beat Boissonnault, and the score evened at 2.

Just over five minutes into the extra frame, Frechette took a pass from senior forward Diana Buckley to the house and gave Cornell their fourth ever win in the NCAA opening round.

The Big Red will play the winner of the Minnesota Princeton game.

Men’s Hockey wins another overtime contest to open quarterfinals with Maine

by Joe Barbito

BOSTON, MA – In true Northeastern fashion, it would take about five minutes of extra hockey for the Huskies to defeat the Black Bears when sophomore forward Austin Goldstein scored his first of the season to end things with a 2-1 victory.

Sophomore goaltender Cayden Primeau made 36 saves, including 16 in the second period alone. The pendulum of momentum swung back and forth vigorously all game as the Huskies tried to use their speed to match the Black Bears size.

Sophomore forward Eduards Tralmaks nearly started scoring in the second period as the Black Bears almost netted a short handed goal. Tralmaks and sophomore forward Emil Westerlund entered the zone on the right side of the ice. Westerlund burned past the Northeastern defense, skated to the goal line then put the puck into the crease. Primeau was unable to get a hold of it before Tralmaks knocked it in off his skate. The officials reviewed the goal and determined there was a distinct kicking motion.

Scoring opened up at 8:29 in the first when senior forward Lincoln Griffin forced a turnover and found freshman forward Tyler Madden streaking into the slot. Griffin put a pass perfectly on Madden’s stick who ripped a wrist shot past sophomore goaltender Jeremy Swayman to light the lamp.

Senior defenseman Eric Williams whiffed on a shot from inside the Black Bear blue line; sophomore defenseman Brady Keeper would end up skating into the offensive zone unimpeded. He was able to beat Primeau cleanly high on the blocker side.

Neither time could light the lamp in the third period. Primeau made 11 saves while Swayman made 13, and the pipes had their fair share of work to do as both teams rung iron in the final frame.

In today’s edition of unlikely heroes, sophomore forward Austin Goldstein scored his first goal of the season on a breakaway to send the fans home and put the shirts back on the kids in the DogHouse.

Northeastern will look to close the series out tomorrow night when they drop the puck with Maine for Game 2 of the Hockey East Quarterfinals at 7pm tomorrow.

CAA Champs: Northeastern moves on to the Big Dance

by Matthew MacCormack

NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. — All season long, the Northeastern men’s basketball team relied on three-point proficiency, a deep roster and a veteran point guard that made it all go.

All three of those keys were on display Tuesday night in the North Charleston Coliseum, as the Huskies (23-10) knocked off Hofstra, 82-74, in the championship game of the Colonial Athletic Association to earn the conference’s automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. Redshirt senior point guard Vasa Pusica scored 15 of his team-high 21 points in the second half to earn the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player award.

“This means the world to everybody,” said junior guard Shawn Occeus.

“We’re just happy and ecstatic that we were able to pull it off, and hopefully do some more things in the [NCAA] tournament.”

Seven Huskies tallied nine points or more, including junior forward Bolden Brace (10 pts, 10 rebs, 9 assts), who narrowly missed a triple-double. The two-seeded Huskies shot 50% from the floor and 45%(14-31) from three, while holding top-seeded Hofstra to 39% from the field and 30% (6-20) beyond the arc.

The Huskies will find out their seed, foe and tournament site for the NCAA Tournament on Selection Sunday, March 17.

“My sense of pride for this group of young men, all they’ve been through and all they’ve accomplished, [is huge],” said Northeastern head coach Bill Coen.

“You grow up as a little kid playing a little boys game, and you’ve got a dream to play in the NCAA Tournament.”

Hofstra senior guard Justin Wright-Foreman — the CAA’s two-time reigning Player of the Year — led the Pride (27-7) with 29 points. Only junior guard Eli Pemberton (15 pts, 7 rebs) joined Wright-Foreman in double figures for Hofstra.

The Huskies led, 15-8, when Pusica fouled Hofstra senior guard Desure Buie (8 pts) on a made three-point  attempt to pick up his second foul with 10:15 to go in the first half. The point guard had six of the Huskies 15 points, but was sent to the bench, and Buie’s four-point pay closed the gap to 15-12.

NU’s other players picked up the slack, finishing the half on a 27-14 run without Pusica on the floor. Redshirt junior guard Jordan Roland (11 points) hit three triples during the stretch, and Brace, Occeus (11 points), and senior center Anthony Green (9 points, 7 rebs) each contributed 4+ points in the stretch. The Huskies led, 42-26, at halftime.

Hofstra scored the first eight points of the second half to bring the deficit to eight, on a run capped by a triple from junior forward Tareq Coburn (9 points, 4 rebs).

The Pride made a second run midway through the second half, erasing a 54-44 deficit with a 10-run from the 12:29 mark to the 9:13 mark of the second half.

With the score knotted a 54-54, Pusica stepped up. The senior buried a triple to end the Hofstra run and regain the lead, and then buried a dagger three with 3:58 remaining to cap a 17-6 run that put the Huskies up, 71-60.

“I knew that I hadn’t played a good game to that point, so I just wanted to pick it up,” Pusica said.

“I didn’t want to go out with a bad performance and a loss. I just started shooting and some threes started falling.”

NU tops Charleston, moves on to CAA Championship

Junior guard Shawn Occeus sparked Northeastern in the CAA Semi-final (Image Credit: GoNU)
Junior guard Shawn Occeus sparked Northeastern in the CAA Semi-final (Image Credit: GoNU)

by Matthew MacCormack

NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. — If there’s anyone that knows resilience on the Northeastern men’s basketball team, it’s Shawn Occeus.

The junior guard missed 19 games this season. He suffered an ankle injury just before Northeastern’s opener against BU, and suffered another setback just as he was reaching full health mid-season.

But in Monday night’s semi-final matchup with Charleston in the Colonial Athletic Association tournament — just Occeus’ second game back after a nine-game absence — the 2017-18 CAA Defensive Player of the Year showed what resilience is all about.

Occeus scored a team-high 17 points to lead the two-seeded Huskies (22-10) over No. 3 Charleston in a gritty, 70-67 victory at the North Charleston Coliseum. Redshirt senior point Vasa Pusica chipped in 13 points and seven assists, Jordan Roland added 10 points, and the Huskies held the Cougars without a field goal for the final 3:13 to seal the win.

Northeastern got its sweet revenge after blowing a 17-point second half lead to Charleston in last year’s championship game.

“We’re a lot more matured and experience,” Occeus said, comparing the two seasons.

“When the building got loud towards the end of the game we just stuck to it. Everybody was communicating, coaches were talking to us and we were listening.”

The Huskies will take on top-seeded Hofstra in the CAA Championship tomorrow at 7 p.m, with the winner receiving the conference’s automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. Matt MacCormack, Justin Littman and Michael Petillo will have the call on WRBB 104.9, with coverage beginning at 6:30.

Charleston senior forward Jarrell Brantley tallied 18 points, 10 rebounds and five assists to lead the Cougars (24-9). Junior guard Grant Riller (22 ppg), who joined Brantley on the All-CAA First-Team, was held to 10 points on five of 13 shooting, and missed all five of his three-point attempts.

Sophomore guard Brevin Galloway (12 points) was also in double-figures for Charleston.

“It was really going to be hard to top last year’s championship game,” said Northeastern head coach Bill Coen.

“I think tonight’s game was equally as intense, competitive, and spirited.”

Charleston took a 65-63 lead on a Riller layup with 3:13 to go in the game. Northeastern senior center Anthony Green (9 points, 6 rebounds) was fouled on a rebound attempt moments later, and hit one of two free throws to cut the lead to one with 2:43 remaining.

Charleston missed twice on their next two possessions, and the Huskies missed one shot while giving up a turnover on the other.

Pusica ended the scoreless stretch with a sweet up-and-under layup with 37 seconds left to put the Huskies back up, 66-65. Coen appeared to be calling out a play, but the noise level from the local Charleston crowd was too deafening. Pusica improvised.

“I always defer to the point guard,” Coen said.

“It’s his show, it’s his team…that’s the trust level I have in him; he saw an opportunity and he took it.”

Brantley missed a layup on the other end, and Pusica sunk two free throws to push the lead to 68-65 with 17 seconds left.

The next trip down, Charleston senior guard Marquise Pointer was fouled on a three-point attempt. Pointer hit the first, but missed the second free throw. His attempt to intentionally miss the third was unsuccessful, and the made free throw put the Husky lead at 68-67 with three seconds to go. Northeastern redshirt junior guard Donnell Gresham (8 points, 5 rebounds) hit two free-throws to push the lead to 70-67, and a last-second heave from Riller was off the mark.

Occeus guarded Riller on many possessions, but credited his teammates and coaches for limiting the star scorer.

It just wasn’t me tonight; it was everybody,” Occeus said.

“All the guys stepped up and played, and did their part. I just tried to make it difficult for [Riller]…Credit to the coaches, because they gave us a great game plan on him and all we had to do was execute it.”

Pusica was asked after the game if getting revenge over Charleston in their home territory made up for last year’s championship loss.

“A little bit,” Pusica said with a smile.

“It’s a great feeling winning in this arena against this team.”

But a victory over Hofstra in tomorrow’s championship — and an automatic bid to the Big Dance — that would make it all worth it.

“A win tomorrow would definitely make it up,” Pusica said.

Huskies beat down Seahawks; advance to CAA semi-finals

by Matthew MacCormack

NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. — For the Northeastern men’s basketball team, the formula is simple; make threes, and make sure your opponent doesn’t.

The Huskies (21-11) executed that plan to perfection Saturday night in the North Charleston Coliseum, knocking off UNCW, 80-59, in the quarterfinal of the Colonial Athletic Association tournament. Redshirt junior guard Jordan Roland led the way with 21 points, while junior forward Bo Brace (17 points, 8 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 steals) and senior point guard Vasa Pusica (16 points, 7 assists, 6 rebounds) helped guide the two-seeded Huskies over the No. 10 Seahawks (10-23).

“If you expect to win in the CAA, you are going to have to defend the three, and you are going to have to make threes,” said Northeastern head coach Bill Coen.

“Tonight we did both.”

UNCW senior forward DeVontae Cacok had 21 points and 13 rebounds in his final game for the Seahawks, and junior forward Jeantal Cylla chipped in 12 points and five boards.

The Huskies will battle the winner of No. 3 Charleston and No. 6 Drexel in the CAA semi-finals on Monday at 8:30 p.m. Matt MacCormack, Justin Littman and Michael Petillo will have the call.

NU entered the tournament with best three-point defense in CAA play (opponents shot just 31.4% against the Huskies), as well as the second best three-point offense (38.5% on triples). The statistics held up on Sunday night, as Northeastern buried 12 threes and held the Seahawks to just one three-point make.

“Our defense was stingy,” Coen said.

“We keep teams to a light percentage [from three]. It’s our formula for winning basketball.”

Those triples came in hand early, as Brace and Roland each buried a triple in the opening two minutes to give NU a 6-2 lead. The first-half lead extended to 13 when Pusica hit his second triple at the 11:44 mark of the first half, making it 20-7, NU.

Cacok kept the Seahawks in the game, scoring 12 consecutive points for the Seahawks over a six minute stretch. Cylla buried a jumper with 3:59 to go in the half to cut the NU lead to 29-23.

“We were always calm,” Pusica said.
“Even when they cut it to six, we knew we just needed to do what we do every day and eventually we were going to come up [with a win].”

The Huskies ended the half on a tear, responding with a 10-4 run fueled by two Roland threes to bring the halftime lead to 39-28.

Momentum continued into the second half, as Brace buried two more triples as part of a 12-1 run to open the second half, pushing the lead to 51-29. Northeastern never trailed by fewer than 17 points from there.

Brace was clutch all evening long, on both ends of the floor.

“[Brace] is an underrated guy in this league,” Coen said.

He does so much for us. He’s a tremendous defensive rebounder, and he’s done a good job doing his job defensively. When he grabs a defensive rebound, it really ignites our fastbreak.”

The Seahawks defeated No. 7 Elon, 93-86, in Saturday night’s play-in game to advance to the quarterfinals.

Coen lauded Cacok’s career contributions after the game. The senior forward made three CAA All-Defensive teams and two All-CAA First teams in his four-year career in Wilmington.