NU outlasts Elon in double-OT thriller

By: Matthew MacCormack

Elon, N.C — The Northeastern bench looked barren prior to tip-off Thursday night.

Junior Devon Begley (wrist) and sophomores Donnell Gresham (wrist) and Jeremy Miller (knee) were all back in Boston with injuries. Senior Alex Murphy (the team’s second leading scorer) was a late scratch from the trip, for what the team called “personal reasons.”

Losers of nine of their last 11, NU  was down to just seven players.

It was going to take something extraordinary for the Huskies to upend Elon at Alumni Gymnasium, where the Phoenix toted a 9-3 record.

Extraordinary was just what they got.

Freshman Bolden Brace dropped 40 points, including a school-record 10 threes, to guide Northeastern to a 105-104, double-overtime victory. Elon sophomore Tyler Seibring (30 points, 12 rebounds) hit a fallaway jumper at the end of regulation to force overtime, but missed a similar look as time expired in the second overtime to seal the deal for the Huskies(15-14, 8-9 CAA).

“I’ve been at Northeastern for 11 years now,” head coach Bill Coen said post-game. “Given the circumstances and the numbers, That was as good a win to cobble together that I’ve been associated with.

Brace joins NU legends J.J. Barea and Reggie Lewis as the only Huskies to reach the 40-point mark in a game. The freshman had 28 of the Huskies’ 43 points at the half, including a seven of 10 clip from beyond the arc.

“It’s the best feeling in the world,” said Brace, who played all 50 minutes. “When you see the ball go through the basket that many times in one game, there’s no feeling like it.”

Senior T.J. Williams posted the program’s first triple-double since 2006 with a tremendous 26-point, 10-rebound, 12-assist effort. Sophomore big man Anthony Green chipped in a double-double (11 points, 11 rebounds) before fouling out late, and senior Jimmy Marshall (15 points) and freshman Max Boursiquot (13 points) also hit double figures.

NU topped 100 points for the first time in the Bill Coen era (2006-present).

We have about 5 guys back home, we almost have more guys back home than we do here,” Coen said.

“The way guys stepped up and guys are in different roles, and in a very difficult place to win, against a team that’s playing as well and anyone in the CAA; I just couldn’t be prouder of that group in the locker room.”

The Huskies will battle UNCW on Saturday in Trask Arena. Jeremy Leopold and Matt MacCormack will have the call, with pre-game coverage starting at 1:45 p.m. Follow the link for our exclusive stream: http://www.wrbbsports.com/listen-live/.

 

Charleston tops NU for Huskies’ third straight loss on Senior Day

By: Matthew MacCormack

BOSTON —  The Huskies hung around for a while, but Charleston got superstar performances from their top three players and rode hot shooting to a 85-71 victory over Northeastern on Saturday afternoon at Matthews Arena. NU seniors Jimmy Marshall, Alex Murphy and T.J. Williams played their final games at Matthews on Senior Day.

The trio of Joe Chealey (29 points), Jarrell Brantley (21 points) and Grant Riller (21 points) combined to score 86% of Charleston’s points. Incredible three-point shooting outputs from Chealey (6 of 8) and Riller (5 of 9) opened up the high post for the 6’7 Brantley, who also posted seven rebounds.

For the game, Charleston shot 63% from the floor and 50% from three.

“They played a terrific game,” said head coach Bill Coen.  “They have an inside-outside balance that’s tough to deal with.”

Williams’ 18 points led the way for NU. After a layup from Max Boursiquot (10 points) knotted the game at 48 with 13:57 to play, Charleston’s three stars pushed the game out of reach. The lead ballooned to as large as 17.

“[Charleston] kept us on a string today. And I thought they played on a championship level.”

Marshall, Murphy and Williams all got the start, and were honored pre-game for Senior Day festivities.

“It’s been great just to be able to be out there with a great group of guys that I can call my brothers,” Williams said. “Building those relationships is what it’s all about.”

Offense stalls late as Huskies fall to Hofstra

BOSTON — It took 12 ties and 12 lead changes to separate Northeastern and Hofstra at Matthews Arena Saturday night, but the Husky offense faded down the stretch and Hofstra escaped with a 74-64 road victory.

Northeastern falls to 14-12 overall and 7-7 in the CAA.

T.J. Williams led the way with 21 points, six rebounds and six assists. Alex Murphy chipped in 13 points and seven boards, albeit on 5-16 shooting from the field. The Huskies struggled from three, hitting six of their 27 attempts from deep for 22% clip.

“When we had good shots, we didn’t make shots,” Head Coach Bill Coen said post-game. “For us, we really need to make threes and we didn’t make enough tonight.”‘

Justin Wright-Foreman was sensational for the Pride (13-14, 5-9 CAA), pouring in 25 points on 7-11 shooting. Brian Bernardi (17 points) and Eli Pemberton (13 points) also hit double figures.

After a jumper from Murphy tied the game at 60 with 4:39 to play, the Huskies went scoreless for four minutes, as Hofstra mounted a 10-0 run to put the game away. The Huskies missed all seven of their shots and lost three turnovers in the scoreless stretch. Williams ended the drought  with a layup to bring the score to 70-62 with 33 seconds left, but by then the game was out of reach.

Next up, Northeastern will host conference-leading UNCW at Matthews Arena on Thursday. Jeremy Leopold and Matt MacCormack will have the call on WRBB.

Brace’s buzzer-beater leads NU over Charleston, 73-72

By: Matt MacCormack

Freshman swingman Bolden Brace hit a fall-away, put-back jumper at the buzzer to give Northeastern a 73-72 victory over College of Charleston in a thrilling contest at TD Arena on Thursday night.

After trailing 37-21 at the half, Northeastern hit another gear in the second frame, outscoring the Cougars 52-35 after the break. Charleston scored 11 points off of 9 NU turnovers in the first half, but NU cleaned things up in the second half, turning the ball over just three times.

Four players scored more than 14 points for the Huskies, and senior forward Alex Murphy led the way with 19 points and eight boards. Senior center Anthony Green tallied a 14 points and 10 rebounds for his first career double-double.

Northeastern drops fifth consecutive road contest with 73-69 setback to James Madison

By: Michael Petillo

Without the services of T.J. Williams Northeastern’s road struggles continued Saturday afternoon as they dropped another game away from the friendly confines of Matthews Arena, this time to the James Madison Dukes by a score of 73-69.

Williams missed the game with an undisclosed injury which is believed to be minor as he should be back for NU’s next game on Thursday at Charleston.

The undermanned Huskies struggled out of the gate and were down by as many as 13 in the first half as JMU got off to a hot start powered by senior swingman Jackson Kent. Kent recorded 11 points in the first half on his way to 25 on the game.

Northeastern was able to claw back, however, and went into the half down just five thanks to some hot shooting by freshman Bolden Brace, who scored a career-high 21. This effort by Brace comes on the heels on a 20 point outing on Thursday against William and Mary.

The second half was hotly contested and Northeastern claimed their first lead of the game at the 8:29 mark following another deep bomb from Brace.

While Huskies held that lead for a mere 14 seconds, they remained in the game and with 22 seconds left had the ball down 71-69 after sophomore JMU guard Vince Holmes missed 2 foul shots.

On the ensuing possession Northeastern’s junior guard Devon Begley missed a step-back 3 point try that would have put Northeastern up one.

“I don’t second guess my players,” said Coach Coen, “but I think if you asked Devon he would like that possession back.”

Northeastern next takes the court on Thursday in Charleston when they take on the Cougars. Listen live at http://www.wrbbsports.com/listen-live/.

William & Mary offense too strong for Northeastern

By: Mike Petillo

WILLIAMSBURG, Va. — Northeastern’s road woes continued Thursday night in Kaplan Arena as NU fell to William & Mary 94-69 in a game where the Tribe led wire-to-wire.  The loss dropped the Huskies to 13-10 (6-5 CAA) on the year and just 1-4 on the road in CAA play.

 A high-scoring first half culminated with a 49-38 William & Mary lead.  Freshman swingman Bolden Brace was the main reason the Huskies were in the game at the half.  Brace knocked down all four of his three point attempts as NU struggled to keep pace with the blistering offensive pace of William and Mary.

For the Tribe, their early attack was led by senior Daniel Dixon who poured in 18 first half points en route to a game-high 28 to pair with seven rebounds and four assists.

After the game, Northeastern head coach Bill Coen had nothing but praise for the senior wing.

“He’s an outstanding player and you could just see he’s got that senior calmness about him,” Coen said.

“He’s not hurried by the shot clock ticking down and he’s got a great internal clock. He’s got a great sense of the moment and has developed a great post game and in between game. He’s got the complete package.”

 Northeastern was able to find consistent offense for a large portion of the game but they struggled to defend the Tribe’s high powered attack, which had scored over 90 points in each of its previous two games.  Northeastern allowed William and Mary to shoot a blistering 64% from the field and 53% from beyond the arc.

For Northeastern, Brace led in the scoring column with a career-high 20 points and  point guard T.J. Williams put in 18 to go with four rebounds and four assists.

Northeastern’s next game is this Saturday February 4th in Harrisonburg,VA when they take on the James Madison Dukes.  Listen live at http://www.wrbbsports.com/listen-live/.

By the Numbers: Halfway through CAA play

Senior point guard T.J. Williams (10) is leading the CAA with 21.5 points per game (Image Credit: Northeastern Athletics).
Senior point guard T.J. Williams (10) is leading the CAA with 21.5 points per game (Image Credit: Northeastern Athletics).

By: Matt MacCormack

Anytime you graduate four seniors and lose 70% of your scoring from the year before, the next season is bound to be rife with uncertainty. That’s just what’s transpired for Bill Coen’s Northeastern Huskies in the 2016-17 season.

Calling the Huskies’ season a “roller coaster ride” is an understatement. NU’s 13-9 record might not seem remarkable, but the path they took to achieve it is.

The highs have been incredible, with wins at UConn and at Michigan State, as well as an eight-game win streak that stretched from early December to mid-January. Senior point guard T.J. Williams has exploded into a mid-major superstar after a junior season plagued with injury and inconsistency.

But every coin has two sides, and the Huskies have had their share of difficulties this season, as well. One can’t forget losses to BU, LIU-Brooklyn, Cornell and Stony Brook, or the recent four-game conference losing streak where the Huskies looked incapable of winning away from Matthews Arena.

Screen Shot 2017-02-02 at 10.57.43 AMWe’re just past the halfway point of league play in the Colonial Athletic Association, and the Huskies find themselves amidst a crowded CAA middle class. UNCW and College of Charleston separated themselves at the top of the leaderboard, but NU is one of three teams tied for third with 6-4 conference records.

A tough schedule looms, with away games at William & Mary and James Madison this week, and four games total remaining against the top dogs of UNCW and C of C. Another losing streak will likely correspond with a drastic fall down in the standings.

Just past the halfway point of the CAA play, we’re taking the opportunity to look at four key numbers from the Huskies season, and analyze their importance moving forward:

14.7

Difference in T.J. Williams’ points per game from this year to last

Last season, Williams averaged 6.8 ppg and started just 19 games for a Husky team that relied more on its four seniors than anyone else. This season, Williams (21.5 ppg, 5.2 assts, 4.8 rebs) has arguably made the biggest leap of any player in the country, leading the nation in year-over-year scoring difference. Williams can thank his ability to get to the free throw line, as the senior is 5th in the country with 141 points via free throws this season. The Huskies go as Williams goes, and the likely CAA Player of the Year will have to continue his dominance for Northeastern to close the year strong.

2

Number of day-one starters lost to injury

The Huskies have remained competitive without sophomore guard Donnell Gresham (wrist/hand) and sophomore center and preseason All-CAA Honorable Mention Jeremy Miller (leg). Gresham is done for the season, and doubts linger over whether Miller will be back in time for the CAA tournament. One can only imagine how the Huskies’ season would’ve gone with the two standout sophomores. In their place junior guard Devon Begley, who leads the CAA in steals, and sophomore center Anthony Green have stepped up admirably, particularly on the defense end. But will the Huskies have enough firepower to make a run down two dependable contributors?

Bill Coen has his team right in the mix in the CAA with eight games to play. (Image Credit: Northeastern Athletics)
Bill Coen has his team right in the mix in the CAA with eight games to play. (Image Credit: Northeastern Athletics)

4.2

Average margin of defeat in Northeastern’s nine losses

Say what you want about this NU team; they’ve been in every contest they’ve played this season, losing their average game by just two possessions. The bonus number is 7, as in the Huskies haven’t lost a game this year by more than seven points. It could be because their three freshman (Bolden Brace, Max Boursiquot, Shawn Occeus) each play 20 minutes a game, or because there’s a host of other players getting used to new roles, especially taking into account the injuries.

“We’ve been competitive in each and every game,” Coen said in Tuesday’s CAA teleconference. “There’s been execution flaws on offense and defense that have prevented us from winning at a high level.”

The Huskies can count on being in more close games down the stretch, and you can be sure Coach Coen is hoping to close the gap late in games.

254

The Huskies’ national rank in free throw percentage (out of 347 teams)

It’s no secret; Northeastern struggles in capitalizing on the “charity” part of the charity stripe. At 67%, the Huskies’ free throw percentage ranks close to the bottom quarter of the country. While Williams has converted his freebies at an impressive clip (141/188, or 75%), the rest of the Huskies combine to shoot under 62%. To make matters worse, all of the Huskies’ losses have been by single digits; their losses have come by a total of 38 points, and in those losses they’ve missed 69 free throws. Make even half of those misses, and NU’s season outlook would be drastically different.

MBB snaps four-game skid with win over Towson

BOSTON — It was a back-and-forth game Saturday night at Matthews Arena, but Northeastern emerged with a 69-62 victory over the visiting Towson Tigers to snap a four-game losing streak and improve their standing in a loaded CAA leaderboard.

The Huskies (13-9, 6-4 CAA) were led by senior guard T.J. Williams, who overcame early free throw struggles to contribute 23 points, five rebounds and four assists. Williams’ 20 free throw attempts were the third-most in a single game in Northeastern history, as the senior connected on 13 shots from the charity stripe. Senior forward Alex Murphy chipped in 16 points and six boards.

The game featured eight ties and four lead changes. Northeastern took the lead for good with a 15-5 run that turned a 40-35 deficit into a 50-45 lead, starting at the 11:22 mark in the second half. Murphy had eight points in the stretch, including two three-pointers.

The Tigers (13-9, 5-5 CAA) had five players contribute eight points more, and Deshaun Morman was the high-man with 11. NU was able to hold Towson to eight offensive rebounds, five below their conference average. The Huskies also won the turnover battle, with just 10 mishaps to the Tiger’s 12.

Freshman forward Max Boursiquot left the game late with injury, and was seen with crutches post-game. If he’s unable to play next week, the Huskies could be limited to just seven active players.

Up next for NU is a pair of road contests: at William & Mary on Thursday and at James Madison on Saturday. Jeremy Leopold and Mike Petillo will have the call for both games on WRBB.

Northeastern drops fourth straight in 51-49 home loss to Elon

T.J. Williams’ streak 16+ point games ended in Thursday’s loss to Elon. (Image Credit: Hoops Habit).

By: Christian Skroce

TJ Williams’ last-second layup came up short as Northeastern fell to Elon, 51-49 Thursday night at Matthews Arena.

Tyler Seibring and Brian Dawkins carried the Phoenix (13-9, 5-4 CAA) with tough interior play, totaling 15 and 12 points respectively. The teams went back and forth during the final minutes of the contest before Elon took the lead for good on a Seibring layup with 1:26 to go. A layup from NU junior Devon Begley brought NU (12-9, 5-4 CAA) within a point, 50-49, with seven seconds to go. After a foul, Elon’s Dainan Swoope hit one of two from the line, giving Williams a final chance that he failed to convert.

The loss was Northeastern’s fourth in conference play and extended their losing streak to four games.

“I told our guys, I thought it was a winning effort,” Northeastern coach Bill Coen said post-game.

The scoreboard didn’t show it, but generally when you play harder than another team, you earn a victory, and I thought we played harder than them…That’s what makes it disappointing, because you know the effort was there. The execution has to be a little better.”

Both teams struggled to shoot the ball. Northeastern’s shooting woes began early and continued throughout the game, as the team finished 19-58 from the field and 7-32 from beyond the three-point line. Despite a late game push by Williams, the senior guard was unable to continue his streak scoring at least 16 points in every game this season. Williams was the only player in the country to score 16+ in every game this season.

Northeastern looks to end its losing streak in its next game, a home matchup with Towson on Saturday. Coverage will be on 104.9 WRBB and wrbbsports.com/listenlive starting at 6:45. Tipoff is set for 7 PM.

“They’re another really tough CAA opponent,” Coen said.

“A very physical bunch, great rebounding team. We’re going to have our hands full.”