By Michael Petillo & Rachel Santo
BOSTON — With former Northeastern standout and current Dallas Mavericks point guard J.J. Barea in attendance in an effort to help raise money to help his native Puerto Rico recover after their recent hurricane, Northeastern knocked off visiting Bucknell 82-64 in what was a consistent performance from start to finish on #PawsForPuertoRico night in Matthews Arena.
NU dominated with a plus 11 differential on the glass and scored 18 second chance points as they pulled away from the Bison early in the second half. Coach Bill Coen credited the second half surge to the team’s extensive depth.
“We’re allowed to stay fresh,” Coen said after the game.
“That doesn’t always present itself in the opening half, but in the second half I think our numbers really have an impact on the game.”
Junior guard Vasa Pusica led the scoring for Northeastern with 17 on a crisp 7-10 shooting. Three other Huskies finished in double figures, including Anthony Green, who turned in a great second half performance of 11 points and 6 boards.
“I thought [Green] had his best game of the year,” head coach Bill Coen said of his junior center.
“He got in quick foul trouble the first four minutes of the game, but I thought in the second half he gave us a huge lift and a gave us a presence in the paint”
For Bucknell, they were led by a couple of player of the year candidates in the Patriot League in senior forwards Zach Thomas and Nana Foulland. The pair scored 15 and 13 points respectively, but it wasn’t enough on a night where the Huskies shot 53% from the field and moved the ball extremely well, finishing with 16 assists as a team.
Barea spoke to the crowd at halftime alongside Northeastern women’s basketball player Claudia Ortiz, also a Puerto Rico native. Coen was instrumental in helping Barea organize the fundraising event, which included a silent auction of signed Barea memorabilia and a donation drive that gave donors a “Los Huskies” T-Shirt.
“I think J.J. just jumped in with both feet,” Coen said.
“Being a Northeastern family member, we gravitated to that. We got some great support.”
Northeastern will face another tough mid-major opponent their next time out on December 9th, when the Catamounts of Vermont come into town. Vermont is coming off a close loss to Bucknell and is currently ranked as the 4th best mid-major program in the country.