By: Milton Posner
BOSTON – The last time Northeastern men’s basketball faced off against Drexel, a late run by the latter and missed free throws by the former allowed Drexel to escape with a one-point win.
On Thursday night, the Dragons arrived at Matthews Arena hungry for seconds. The Huskies would have none of it.
Strong inside play and timely shooting secured the Huskies (18-9, 11-4 conference) some payback, as they defeated the Dragons (11-17, 5-10 conference), 75-69.
Northeastern, which typically relies heavily on perimeter shooting, spent much of the game driving the lane and earning shots inside, a strategy reflected in the strong game recorded by junior center Anthony Green (16 points, 8-10 FG, 3 rebounds).
“We came out with a lot more energy,” Green said. “Every team gets momentum. You got to stay calm, stick together, and play through it.”
The other star performer for Northeastern was redshirt junior Vasa Pusica, who used frequent drives to the basket to log 24 points. Pusica struggled with foul trouble throughout the contest, which head coach Bill Coen attributed to limited practice time for Pusica during the week.
“You could tell his timing was off,” Coen said. “But he made a big shot and a couple of big free throws right when we needed it. He’s a confident player, he’s an experienced player, and we need him to play at a high level to be a good team.”
The efficiency of the Huskies’ offense peaked when Pusica and Green played well together. One of the team’s most common offensive actions is when Green sets a ball screen for Pusica out top, and the play worked often Thursday night.
“It’s really helpful,” Green said of playing with Pusica. “You can always be on high alert with him. You never know when the ball’s gonna come to you. He’s a really unique point guard to play with.”
Despite a subpar effort from three-point range (5-20), the Huskies’ aggressive approach allowed every player who entered the game to score at least one field goal. Six players connected multiple times from the field, allowing Northeastern to withstand excellent scoring performances from Drexel’s Tramaine Isabell and Troy Harper.
“You get to the foul line, which settles you down, helps you set your defense,” Coen said of the team’s emphasis on scoring in the paint. “You get high-percentage shots. Inside-out threes are better than most any other threes. It just shows an aggressive nature around the rim.”
With three regular-season games left before the CAA tournament, Northeastern holds sole possession of second place, trailing Charleston by a single game and leading Hofstra by two games. Their next contest is on Saturday at 4 PM against William and Mary at Matthews Arena.