Columbus, Ohio — It didn’t take long to realize that the Northeastern Huskies’ men’s basketball team was overmatched in Sunday afternoon’s PK 80 Invitational game at Value City Arena.
Ohio State (4-0) jumped out to a 15-2 lead in the first five and a half minutes, and the Buckeyes never trailed en route to a 80-55 thumping over visiting Northeastern. Junior forwards Jae’Sean Tate (24 pts, 10-10 FG) and Keita Bates-Diop (19 pts, 7 rebs) dominated Northeastern inside, as the Buckeyes posted a +11 rebounding margin. The Huskies fell to 2-2 after Friday’s loss at Stanford — also a part of the Invitational.
“I thought the difference in the game was clearly their front line and their physicality,” Northeastern Head Coach Bill Coen said.
“They were able to wedge their way in around the basket, either for rebounds or post position. We really had difficulty keeping them off their spots.”
Donnell Gresham was the lone bright spot for the Huskies, poring in a career-high 16 points on 4-8 shooting from three. The redshirt sophomore guard topped his previous best of 15, which he logged in Friday’s loss at Stanford.
Tate set a school record for most shot attempts without a miss, and he terrorized NU all night long. The 6’4 forward scored 11 of the Buckeyes’ first 13 points, helping OSU build a commanding lead in the opening minutes.
“That’s big, especially at home just getting the crowd into it,” Tate said.
“In that moment, you’re just blacked-out, playing hard… I’m just worried about the job at hand.”
Things got worse once Bates-Diop got on the board. The 6’7 forward hit a free throw to put the Buckeyes 19-7 with 11:32 to go in the first half, and then scored nine of the next 11 Buckeye points to stretch the lead to 30-9. Overall, ohio state shot 63% from the floor in the opening 20 minutes. Northeastern hobbled into the half with a 47-17 deficit, buoyed by 11 points from Gresham.
The second half got better, as Northeastern outscored Ohio State, 38-33, in the second frame. Sophomore wing Shawn Occeus and redshirt junior point guard Vasa Pusica combined for 17 points after being held scoreless in the opening 20 minutes.
“They responded well at half time with some grit and we’ll try to take that moving forward,” Coen said.
“When things aren’t going well, you find out who’s going to lay down and quit and who’s going to go out there and compete. I certainly wasn’t pleased at all with the first half effort. Maybe we were a little intimidated, maybe we were a little jet-lagged — whatever it was there’s no excuse for that.”
Up next for the Huskies is another pair of PK 80 Invitational games in Nashville, Tennessee. NU will take on Utah State at 3:30 pm on Friday before a battle with Furman at 3:30 p.m. on Saturday. Matt MacCormack and Josh Brown will have the call.