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CAA Top of the Ladder: 1/29

January 29th, 2013

This is a weekly feature appearing on Tuesdays that takes a closer look at recent storylines for each of the teams near the top of the CAA standings.

Northeastern University:

1st place, W-L: 13-7 (8-0); Last Week: 2-0

Hashtags: #undefeated #2OT #escape  #primetime #driversseat

If you have not noticed already, the Huskies are a LEGIT contender in the CAA., and it took a national audience for the recognition. Northeastern pulled away from George Mason down the stretch for a 71-51 win on NBC Sports Network. They held the second leading scorer in the CAA, Sharrod Wright, to 16 hard-earned points on 4-9 shooting. For most of the game the play was a lot more competitive than the score would indicate, and the game got sloppy on both sides. But Northeastern was able to execute when it mattered most, whether it was CAA Player of the Week Joel Smith teeing up 3’s, Quincy Ford or freshman David Walker locking down the opponents’ most skilled ball-handler; the Huskies have everyone playing minutes making plays. Notice I have not even mentioned the likes of senior Jon Lee, sophomore big-man Reggie Spencer or other bench contributors yet.

This was preceded by a double overtime victory against William & Mary on Wednesday 95-91 at home. The Huskies built an early double-digit lead in the first half only to see the Tribe shoot 73% in the second half to cut deficit. Smith tied his career high with 29 points in the Husky victory. Walker stepped up to complement his superb defense with his best offensive performance, scoring 17 points to go along with five assists.

Northeastern will finish up a four game home-stand this week with Georgia State coming in for the first match-up of these top-five squads this season. On Saturday Drexel comes into Boston. Northeastern beat the Dragons in overtime in Philadelphia back on January 8, 63-58. The Huskies have now built a three-game lead and hold the tiebreaker over second place George Mason.

George Mason University:

2nd place, W-L: 12-8 (5-3); Last Week: 1-1

Hashtags: #contender #doitWright #Walkeredon #nicetryforonehalf

The Patriots dropped Towson off this week’s ladder with a 77-67 victory on Wednesday in Maryland. Junior Sharrod Wright stole the spotlight off of Towson’s transfer stud Jerrelle Benimon with his 24 points to lead all scorers in the win.

But when the Patriots came up to Boston for a Sunday night showdown and control of the conference on the line, Mason did not have enough answers for the Huskies’ many problems. Both teams suffered from bad turnovers but Wright and company could not take advantage and Northeastern held a 29-21 lead at halftime. In the second half, not only did the Husky reserves make and impact, but with Ford, Lee, Smith and Spencer also adding double digits, the Patriots didn’t have enough bullets in the chamber, falling 71-51.

Mason cannot afford to shy away from the big-stage as they will be featured again on NBC Sports Thursday night when Drexel (4-3) comes in to Fairfax, VA. After a day to catch their breath, the Patriots wraps up the week on Saturday at James Madison (5-3), who jumped onto the third rung in this week’s ladder.

James Madison University:

3rd place W-L: 11-10 (5-3); Last Week: 2-0

Hashtags: #couldbein2nd #Masontiebreaker #fornow #keepingpace

The Dukes make their first appearance after getting above .500 this week with double-digit home wins against Delaware and Old Dominion. On Wednesday against Delaware, Rayshawn Goins posted a double-double with 15 points and 13 rebounds in  the win for James Madison.

On Saturday the Dukes ran a defensive clinic and held Old Dominion to 32% shooting on the way to a 56-46 win at home against Monarchs. This week we will find out about Madison’s staying power with three games on tap.

The Dukes play in Wilmington, N.C. against UNCW  tonight, followed by a return home for a bout with Hofstra (2-5) on Thursday night. The Dukes biggest game this week comes on Saturday when George Mason (5-3) comes to visit, although by then James Madison could have played itself off the ladder.

Drexel University:

4th place W-L: 8-11 (4-3); Last Week: 2-0

Hashtags: #Imstillhere #waittilnextweek #OTrevenge #3headeddragon

The Dragons escaped Hampstead, N.Y. with a 55-52 win over Hofstra on Wednesday. The Drexel defense surrendered 29 points on 10-20 shooting to Hofstra sophomore guard Taran Buie. But it would be Drexel junior Frantz Massenat, one of three Dragons averaging double figures, having the last laugh with his 15 points, as the Dragons pulled out the victory.

Drexel came home for a Saturday match-up with Georgia State, overtaking the Panthers on this week’s ladder with a 68-57 victory. Sophomore guard Damion Lee and Massenat led the Dragons in scoring with 20 and 15 points respectively.

This week is HUGE for Drexel with three big games that could go a long way in deciding the conference make-up. The Dragons host Delaware (3-3) tonight on NBC Sports and a win could spell doom for the Blue Hens as far as obtaining a top seed in the CAA tournament. In another nationally televised bout on Thursday, Drexel invades George Mason (5-3), where a win could put the Dragons back on course for the remainder of the CAA regular season. The biggest game comes two days later when the Dragons have a shot at revenge for the earlier overtime loss this year against Northeastern.

Georgia State:

5th place W-L: 10-12 (5-4); Last Week: 2-1

Hashtags: #hesafreshman #Tigerslayers #almostfourthplace #dragonchow

Georgia State is coming off a busy week, but finds itself right where it started at this time last week. It began with the Panthers starting Towson’s slide down the ladder, defeating the Tigers on their own floor, 71-69 victory. Freshman guard R.J. Hunter was the hero, scoring a career-high 27 points against the Tigers in last Monday’s win.

The Panthers came home to blowout UNC-Wilmington, 81-63, on Wednesday. However, Georgia State’s four-game win streak would come to an end at the hands of Drexel on the road, 68-57, to keep the Panther’s locked in fifth on the ladder. With the loss, the Dragons now hold the tiebreaker edge over the Panthers.

This week Georgia State travels up to Boston for its first match-up with the Huskies (8-0) this season. The Panthers close out the week with last place Old Dominion (0-7) at home on Saturday.

Alex LaCasse Basketball, The Dog Pound ,

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