Northeastern Outlasts Drexel, 75-69

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.

Huskies prevail over UNCW in OT thriller, 107-100

by Matthew MacCormack

BOSTON — There’s just something about the UNC-Wilmington Seahawks.

For the second time this season, the Northeastern men’s basketball survived an overtime saga against UNCW, this time in a 107-100 track meet at Matthews Arena on Saturday evening.

The Huskies (15-9, 8-4 CAA) upended the Seahawks (7-17, 4-8 CAA) in overtime, 81-77, in Wilmington on January 13th.

Redshirt junior point guard Vasa Pusica scored 23 of his 24 points in the second half and overtime on Saturday, while freshman big man Tomas Murphy notched a career-high 21 points on eight of 11 shooting from the field. The 107 points was the Huskies’ highest output of the season.

“A CAA game was scheduled and I think an ABA game broke out,” joked Northeastern Head Coach Bill Coen in the post-game presser.

“When you’re in a league as balanced as the CAA is, you know you’re gonna run into these games and situations.  Nobody in this league is gonna run away from anybody.”

With the victory, Northeastern pulled into a momentary tie for second place in the conference with William & Mary (15-8, 8-4 CAA), which fell 91-79 against Drexel on Saturday.

Sophomore guard Ty Taylor paced the Seahawks with 27 points, including a banked three-pointer at the end of regulation that forced overtime, with both teams tied at 89-89. The Huskies used an second half surge to cruise to a 78-68 lead with 6:12 remaining in regulation, but the Seahawks mounted a 21-11 run to end the second half.

Pusica and Murphy combined to score the first 12 points in overtime, and the Huskies outscored the Seahawks 18-11 in the extra frame.

Pusica, a transfer from the University of San Diego, said that you can’t expect any easy wins in the conference, despite the Seahawk’s underwhelming record entering the game: “All the teams are good, there’s definitely no days off in the CAA.”

Up next for the Huskies is Thursday night’s contest at Delaware (11-13, 4-7 CAA). WRBB will not be broadcasting the game.

MBB beats Hofstra, now alone atop CAA

HEMPSTEAD, N.Y — Three Huskies racked up double-doubles and the defense kept a pair of potent Hofstra scorers in check as Northeastern pulled off an 81-67 victory over Hofstra in the Mack Sports Complex on Thursday night.

Bolden Brace (14 points, 10 rebounds), Anthony Green (14 points, 12 rebounds) and Vasa Pusica (16 points, 10 assists) all posted huge contributions for Northeastern (14-7, 7-2 CAA). Shawn Occeus also chipped in 16 points.

The Huskies entered the game with the top-rated defense in the conference, and did nothing to relinquish their fearsome title. Hofstra junior Justin Wright-Foreman was held to 20 points on three of 21 shooting despite entering the contest averaging 28 points per game in conference play. Sophomore Eli Pemberton — a 15 point per game scorer — scored just 10 on three of 10 shooting from the floor.

Senior big man Rokas Gustys contributed 13 points (6-6 FG) and 10 rebounds, but he was overshadowed by Northeastern’s Green, who played a season-high 32 minutes.

“We needed Anthony to step up and play a big game and fortunately he rose to the occasion,” NU head coach Bill Coen said after the game.

“He did a great job offensively and defensively.”

The victory — paired with a loss by William and Mary (13-7, 6-3 CAA) at Towson — pushed NU into sole possession of first place halfway through the conference slate.

The Huskies next game is Saturday at 2 p.m. at Drexel (8-14, 2-7 CAA). Matt MacCormack and Michael Petillo will be on the call.

 

 

 

Huskies move into a tie for first with a statement victory in Williamsburg

By: Justin Littman

WILLIAMSBURG – The Northeastern Huskies stepped up to the challenge against the top team in the CAA, controlling the game in a 90-70 victory over the William & Mary Tribe. This was only the second time in 11 tries that the Huskies have been able to escape Kaplan Arena with a victory. As for William & Mary, they have now lost two in a row at home, and are now 20-3 in their own arena since the start of last season.

Vasa Pusica led an efficient offensive attack for the Huskies, who seemed to get whatever they wanted throughout the night. Pusica finished the game with 20 points and nine assists. For Pusica, 18 of those points came in the first half, where the Huskies led by as many as 19. Coach Coen had high praise for his point guard after the game.

“He’s been big for us all year, and his shooting is just a small part of what he does for us. He always seems to settle us down when the other team is making a run to come up with a big play, big pass, or a big shot. He played at a high level tonight and we needed him to do so.

As a team, the Huskies shot over 71 percent from the field, and over 63 percent from downtown. This anomaly highlighted both the strength of Northeastern’s offense tonight, as well as the struggles the Tribe have faced defensively all year.

The Huskies were equally masterful on the defensive end, scoring 26 points off 13 William & Mary turnovers. Shawn Occeus set the tone on defense once again, finishing the game with four steals and many more deflections. He even put his body on the line to take a charge midway through the second half.

The Tribe, who entered the game shooting 44 percent from three on the season, shot under 30 percent from behind the arc. They made only five threes all game. David Cohn, who leads the CAA in assist-to-turnover ratio, had only three assists, and turned the ball over five times. Four starters scored in double figures for William & Mary, but they struggled to get any production from their bench, which scored only 11 points.

With the victory, Northeastern has ascended into a three-way tie for first place in CAA, joining William & Mary and Hofstra at the top. They are all 5-2 in the conference. The Huskies have a quick turnaround, as they fly back to Boston and quickly prepare for a Saturday afternoon matchup with the Delaware Blue Hens. Delaware (11-9, 4-3 CAA) is coming off a big road loss to Hofstra, losing 90-63.

Despite late rally, Huskies hold on to defeat Elon 72-60

By: P.J. Wright

BOSTON – After Northeastern jumped out to a 21-point lead at halftime, Elon quickly came roaring back and brought the game to within six points with just under 13 minutes to play.

That’s as close as they would get.

The Huskies staved off the furious comeback to defeat the Phoenix, 72-60, on Friday night at Matthews Area. Northeastern improves to 2-1 in CAA play and 9-6 overall.

“I thought we got great contributions from up and down the lineup,” said Northeastern head coach Bill Coen. “Good teams are going to make a run, but I was really proud of our guys to withstand that run and hang on for the victory.”

Redshirt junior Vasa Pusica led the charge for Northeastern with 20 points, four assists, four rebounds while Devon Begley put together a solid game off the bench with 12 points, including a perfect 6-for-6 from the line, to go along with four steals.

Northeastern seemed to be everywhere on the defensive end, totaling 11 steals and forcing Elon to commit 19 turnovers.

“I though our defense ignited our offense,” Coen added. “We have a pretty together group and we got a lot of pride as well…and guys went out there and competed.”

Senior Dmitri Thompson and Junior Tyler Seibring scored 19 and 17 points, respectively, while Elon’s leading scorer, junior Dainan Swoope was limited to just five.

Northeastern will be back in Matthews Arena on Sunday afternoon to take on James Madison at 2 p.m. The Huskies came out on top in their last meeting, 81-70, on Dec. 30.

Huskies hang on against Vermont, 71-67

By Milton Posner

The Northeastern Men’s Basketball team hung on to beat Vermont, 71-67, in a riveting game that went down to the wire after staying close throughout the second half.

The Huskies have now won four straight contests, improving to 6-4 on the season and 5-0 at Matthews Arena.

Northeastern got 17 points from Donnell Gresham, 12 points from Vasa Pusica, and 16 points from Shawn Occeus, who nailed a clutch three-pointer with 1:45 to go that cemented the lead.

The Huskies built a double-digit lead in the first half on the back of stellar on-ball and team defense, amassing 11 steals on the night, including three from Gresham and three from Occeus.

“That’s my role on the team,” Occeus remarked after the game. “Bring energy on the defensive end every night. Go out there and give it my all. My teammates push me in practice and help me get better on the defensive end.”

The Huskies were able to overcome some first-half foul trouble, with Anthony Green, Vasa Pusica, and Bolden Brace all going to the bench prematurely with two fouls.

“We’ve got twelve players and I’m confident in each and every one of them,” head coach Bill Coen said. “I think it spoke to our depth at that point in time that we were able to lose Vasa and Anthony and Bo. We were playing a little shorthanded but everybody kinda stepped up and picked up the slack. It was a great team win.”

Vermont received a huge chunk of offense from sophomore forward Anthony Lamb, who logged 32 points and cashed in on all 15 of his free throw attempts.

“He had a hell of a game,” Occeus noted. “We just tried to make it tough on him every possession.”

The Huskies have a break for final exams, but will look to keep their momentum moving forward.

“Guys will take some time to get a little bit healthy, dig into their books on Sunday, attack their exams on Monday and Tuesday, and we’ll get back at it on Wednesday,” Coen commented. “We’ve got a big road trip coming up after exams. It will be another great challenge for us, another great opportunity to go out and compete against great programs.”

The Huskies will hit the road, playing December 18 (Kent State) and December 20 (St. Bonaventure), before starting conference play on December 30 against James Madison.

Huskies upend Bucknell, 82-64, on #PawsForPuertoRico night

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.

Gresham leads NU with 22, Huskies pull away from Cornell at home

By Michael Petillo

After a hotly contested back and forth first half of basketball between Northeastern and Cornell, it was the Huskies who pulled away in the second half to cruise to a 84-66 win.  Redshirt sophomore guard Donnell Gresham led the way with 22 points, 17 of which came after halftime.  Gresham also chipped in 9 rebounds and 4 for NU’s 16 steals.  Northeastern’s defense keyed two big second half runs that helped them put the Big Red away, as they forced 23 Cornell into committing 23 turnovers.  

Point guard Vasa Pusica netted 20 on the day and also contributed 6 assists.  It was the 3rd time in the last 4 games that the Belgrade, Serbia native has reached the 20-point mark.  Bolden Brace and Max Boursiquot also eclipsed double digit scoring, with 12 and 11 points respectively.  For Brace, it was an important game in getting him back on track after a slow start to the season shooting the ball.

“I think everybody that watched us last year recognizes how good of a player Bolden is,” said Coach Bill Coen after the game,

“We’ve been waiting for him to kind of get on track and today I thought he just played with that spirit and that energy he needed to be effective.”

Matt Morgan, the Ivy League’s leading scorer the past two seasons, led all scorers with 24 points on 7-12 shooting, but committed 5 turnovers and got little help from his supporting cast.

Northeastern will be in action next this Tuesday, December 5th when they take on the Bucknell Bison at 7 p.m. at Matthews Arena.

Furman coasts to 78-67 win over Northeastern in final game of PK80 Invitational

By: Matt MacCormack

Nashville, TN — The Furman men’s basketball team has four seniors — quadruple the number on Northeastern’s roster. That advantage was on full display Saturday afternoon, as the Huskies fell, 78-67 at Municipal Auditorium in the final leg of the PK 80 Invitational. 

Reigning Southern Conference Player of the Year Devin Sibley scored 22 points and added 10 rebounds as the experienced Paladins (4-2) handed the Husky pups their fourth straight loss. Redshirt junior Vasa Pusica scored 17 points to lead the Huskies (2-4) in scoring for the second straight game. 

“We ran into a team that’s kind of experienced,” said head coach Bill Coen after the game.

“[Furman] knows how to win. That’s what we’re figuring out as a young team.”

Sophomore Shawn Occeus (15 pts, 5 rebounds) drew his first start of the season, replacing classmate Max Boursiquot in the starting five. Junior Jeremy Miller posted a season-high 9 points in 12 minutes off the bench. 

The Paladins entered the second half with a 45-32 lead, and the Huskies never drew closer than eight points. Furman dominated in the interior, pulling down 14 offensive rebounds to the tune of 15 second chance points. 

The Huskies will head home for a matchup with Harvard on Thursday night at 7 p.m. As always, head to http://www.wrbbsports.com/listen-live/ for our call. 

Utah State escapes with narrow 71-67 win over Northeastern

By: Matt MacCormack

Nashville, TN — Northeastern refused to go quietly in Friday afternoon’s 71-67 loss to Utah State in a PK80 Challenge matchup at Municipal Auditorium.

The Huskies — who trailed by 8 points with 38 seconds remaining — brought the game to within one point on Vasa Pusica’s three-pointer with 9 seconds left. After a Utah State free throw, the Huskies again had a chance, down 69-67 with two seconds left. But Bolden Brace’s inbounds pass to Pusica landed out of bounds, and a pair of Aggie free throws iced the game in the final seconds.

Losers of three straight, the Huskies fell to 2-3. Pusica poured in a career-high 27 points on a very efficient nine of 12 from the floor. The redshirt junior also hit six of his eight three point attempts. 

Sophomore Sam Merrill led the way for Utah State (3-3) with 19 points. Junior DeAngelo Isby chipped in 14 off the bench and senior Alex Dargenton added 10 points.

Turnovers were clearly the problem all night long for the Huskies. The Aggies scored 24 points off of 20 Northeastern turnovers. NU also struggled with foul trouble, as the Aggies entered the double bonus with 7:06 remaining in the game.

A back and forth game featured six ties and 15 lead changes. Northeastern took a lead into halftime on a last second three from Pusica, who caught a baseball-style pass from Brace and hit a fadeway jumper as time expired. 

The Aggies took control of the game at the midway point of the second half. A 9-0 Utah State run — punctuated by a three-point play from Dargenton — turned a 50-47 deficit into a 56-50 Aggie lead.

Up next for Northeastern is another PK80 game against Furman, who dispatched UNH, 78-64, in the early game on Friday. Matt MacCormack and Josh Brown will be on the call.