Men’s basketball releases non-conference schedule

Head Coach Bill Coen (left) and the Huskies will be racking up cross-country miles this fall.
Head Coach Bill Coen (left) and the Huskies will be racking up cross-country miles this fall.

by Michael Petillo

BOSTON -The Northeastern men’s basketball team released their non-conference schedule last Wednesday, unveiling a challenging twelve game slate that’s sure to get Huskies fans excited about the start of the new season.  Coach Bill Coen’s squad will certainly be racking up their frequent flyer miles this fall, with trips all over the country throughout the season’s first month and a half.

An appearance in the PK80 tournament, including away games at Big 5 powers Stanford and Ohio State, headline the non-conference slate.

Per tradition, NU will start the season on Nov. 10 against Boston University, this time on the Terrier’s home court.  Last year the two teams squared off twice, with each side winning one game apiece.  After a home contest against Wentworth, the Huskies will jump into the heart of their non-conference slate when they head out to California to take on Stanford on Nov. 17 as part of the PK80 Invitational.  The tournament is being held this year to celebrate the birthday of Nike co-founder Phil Knight, who will turn 80 in February.  

The Huskies will face a quick two day turnaround as they travel from Palo Alto to Columbus to take on Ohio State and first year head coach Chris Holtmann, who takes over for the Buckeyes after the surprise firing of Thad Matta early this summer.  Coming off a huge upset win at Michigan State last year, Northeastern will be hungry to knock off another Big 10 opponent on the road.  The Huskies PK80 appearance concludes in Nashville with two neutral site games against Utah State and Furman on the weekend of Nov. 24.

Coming off that long stretch of road games, Northeastern will return to the friendly confines of Matthews Arena for a four-game homestand.  The team will play host to Harvard, Cornell, Bucknell, and Vermont.  Last season NU dropped road contests against the two Ivy League schools, while squeaking past Vermont in Burlington.  

The end of the out-of-conference schedule sees Northeastern back on the road, with games against Kent State and St. Bonaventure.  The Golden Flashes gave NU a tough game at Matthews last season, with the Huskies hanging on to record a narrow three point victory.

Following a ten-day Christmas break, Northeastern will return for the start of the CAA schedule which tips off on the road against James Madison on Dec. 30.

Northeastern falls to Towson in CAA Quarterfinals

By: Matthew MacCormack

CHARLESTON, S.C. — Northeastern had its share of peaks of valleys in the 2016-17 season, but Saturday’s 82-54 loss to Towson to end the year may have been the low point.

The Huskies (15-16) never led on Saturday night at North Charleston Coliseum, as the No. 3 Tigers dominated the six-seeded Huskies from tip-off to final whistle. NU shot just 27% from the floor and 20% from three-point land, as the physical Tigers won the rebounding battle (42-25), and throttled Northeastern in bench-scoring (44-12).

“We came to a basketball game and a football game broke out. We didn’t bring our helmets or pads,” head coach Bill Coen said post-game. “Tonight, it was all about them exerting their will pretty much everywhere on the floor.”
Zane Martin came off the bench to lead Towson with 17 points, and William Adala Moto and Brian Starr each chipped in 12 for the Tigers, who advance on to face No. 2 Charleston in a semi-final matchup on Sunday.

Towson did a stellar job containing senior guard and CAA Player of the Year T.J. Williams all evening. Williams led the Huskies with 15 points, but went just 3-16 from the floor in his final collegiate game.

“I tip my hat off to them,” Williams said.

“I felt that they came with a good game plan. I tried to make some plays down the stretch to find some players on my team. We got some good looks but the shots didn’t fall.”

The Tigers (20-12) jumped out to a 15-3 lead, with Adala Moto dropping eight points in that stretch. The first-half lead ballooned to as large as 16, as the Huskies seemingly couldn’t buy a bucket.

There was some hope late in the second half, when NU cut the deficit down to 12 points off a three from Bolden Brace with 6:42 to go. After a Husky steal, a three from Jimmy Marshall rattled in-and-out, and Martin responded with a three of his own to push the lead back to 15. The game got no closer.

“We made a nice little run there,” Coen said.

“I thought Jimmy’s shot was down, but then right away they come back and bang a three. It was a little bit of a back-breaker and a dagger.”

Williams and Marshall logged their final minutes in Black and Red. Williams graduates with 1,377 career points, good enough for 15th in NU history.. His scoring output this year (642 pts) was the sixth highest single-season mark in program history.

“We knew it would be a physical game,” Williams said.

“I wish the outcome of the game would have been different, but they came ready to play.”

Three Keys: How Northeastern Can Upset Towson

Towson's William Adala Moto tallied 24 points and seven boards in NU's loss 74-67 at Towson on January 14 (Image credit: pressboxonline.com)
Towson’s William Adala Moto tallied 24 points and seven boards in NU’s loss 74-67 at Towson on January 14 (Image credit: pressboxonline.com)

By: Matthew MacCormack

Northeastern takes on Towson in the first round of the Colonial Athletic Association tournament on Saturday night. WRBB coverage begins at 8 p.m, with Jeremy Leopold, Justin Littman and Matt MacCormack on the call on our exclusive live stream: http://www.wrbbsports.com/listen-live/.

CHARLESTON, S.C — It seems all-too fitting that after 30 games, the Northeastern men’s basketball team sits exactly at .500.

The Huskies’ performance in the 2016-17 regular season has been, in a word, schizophrenic. Senior point guard T.J. Williams (21.6 ppg, 5.3 apg) pieced together one of the best seasons in program history, carrying the Huskies to multiple wins almost single-handedly. But the core around the newly-minted CAA Player of the Year has been inconsistent: a revolving door hampered by inexperience and injuries. Consistency and continuity have eluded the Huskies all year long.

The season’s bright spots were riveting. NU (15-15, 8-10 CAA) pulled off gritty road wins at basketball bluebloods Connecticut and Michigan State, upended America East regular season champ Vermont in the Green Mountain State, and beat out conference foe Elon in double overtime with just seven active players.

After starting out conference play 5-0, Northeastern looked like Colonial Athletic Association contenders. Head coach Bill Coen’s squad then won just three of their final 13 games, as the Huskies seemed unable to overcome a wave of injuries. Opening day starters Donnell Gresham and Jeremy Miller have missed most of the season, and the recent absences of starters Devon Begley (wrist) and Alex Murphy (personal reasons) have thinned out the bench.Three freshman have been forced to take on pivotal roles: Bolden Brace, Max Boursiquot and Shawn Occeus.

The roller-coaster season will culminate in this weekend’s CAA tournament. The winner of the tournament will snatch an automatic bid and dance on to the NCAAs.

Despite the competition moving to the Charleston Coliseum for the first time, the Huskies first-round matchup hasn’t changed. Just like last season, NU earned the No. 6 seed, bypassing the play-in round and setting up a matchup with No. 3 Towson. The Tigers will be looking to avenge last year’s 71-60 loss.

Towson provides a tall task for Coen and the rest of the NU coaching staff. The two teams split the season series, with each side gaining a single-digit victory at home (Towson won 74-64 at SECU Arena; Northeastern got by with a 69-62 win at Matthews Arena).

We’ve outlined three keys for NU to be successful in Saturday night’s matchup:

Note: All-CAA Third team member John Davis will miss his fifth straight game for Towson after suffering a gunshot wound in early February. Davis was the team’s third leading scorer (11.8 ppg) and leading rebounder (7.6 rpg). 

Stay out of foul trouble

Most intramural basketball teams have more healthy bodies than the Huskies had in last weekend’s North Carolina road trip. Just seven players made the trip for the final two games of the season at Elon and UNCW. While the Huskies emerged with a win and a loss from the road trip, playing well with only seven active players isn’t sustainable.

Jeremy Miller (knee) looks like he’ll be back in the lineup, but the word is still out on whether Begley (an All-CAA defensive selection) and Murphy (the team’s second-leading scorer) will be available in Charleston.

This is a particularly dire problem when you consider the Huskies’ first round opponent. Towson has a reputation as the most physical team in the conference, and the numbers back it up; the Tigers averaged more than 26 free throw attempts per game this season, which led the CAA. Northeastern, on the other hand, averaged just over 20.

Here’s another one: Towson is 14-2 when they shoot more free throws than their opponents.

Especially with an undermanned bench, the Huskies must play sound defense without fouling to have a chance to win. Pay particular attention to Towson senior forward William Adala Moto, who attempted 13 free throws (and hit 12) when NU loss at Towson, but attempted just four (and hit three) when the Huskies were victorious at Matthews Arena.

Connect from deep

You know the old cliché “live by the three, die by the three”? The Huskies take that tired phrase to an extreme.

In their 15 wins, the Huskies shot 40.8% from beyond the three-point line. This mark, if extrapolated across the whole season, would rank 8th nationally.

During the Huskies’ 15 losses, that number drops to 33.6%, which would rank right around 250th in the country.

The Huskies don’t usually have a problem getting open looks; Williams draws a lot of the defense’s attention, allowing for easy drive-and-kick opportunities. The biggest factor is, quite literally, whether or not those shots fall. Look for freshman Bolden Brace, fresh off a career-high 40 points at Elon last week, to have his fair share of open triples.

Stay competitive on the boards

From a CAA perspective, Towson is an elite rebounding team; thanks to a slew of physical big men and athletic guards, the Tigers led the conference with a rebounding margin of +7.9 (i.e, Towson pulls down 8 more boards than their opponents, on average). But the Tigers aren’t just good rebounders at a mid-major level; they rank 8th nationally in rebounding, one spot ahead of No. 4 Gonzaga, who was undefeated until a loss last week to BYU.

Staying competitive on the boards is as much mental as it is physical, and the Huskies did a stellar job, relatively, in their two bouts with Towson this year. Overall, the cumulative rebounding total from those two contests was 62-61 in Towson’s favor. The Tigers lost all four of the games in which they lost or tied the rebounding battle this year, and with Davis on the sideline, the Huskies have a legitimate shot to grab more caroms than their fearless opponents.

Williams’ captures Player of the Year, Begley tabbed for All-Defensive team

(Image Credit: CAA)
(Image Credit: CAA)

By: Jeremy Leopold & Matthew MacCormack

For the first time since 2006, the Colonial Athletic Association Player of the Year trophy is returning to Huntington Avenue.

T.J. Williams became the second CAA Player of the Year in program history Thursday night, joining NBA veteran J.J. Barea as the only Huskies to bring home the award.

“It definitely means a lot,” Williams said in the CAA’s video announcement of the award winners. “I know before the season I sat down by myself and I kinda transformed my mind.”

You can find the full CAA awards list here.

Despite receiving no preseason award recognition, the senior point guard emerged as the POTY favorite early in the season. The Pflugerville, Texas native led the CAA in scoring with 21.6 points per game, and finished tied for first in assists with 5.3 per game. Williams topped the 20-point mark 18 times in 2016-17, all while playing the 3rd most minutes per game in the nation.

Last Thursday night at Elon, Williams also became the first NU player since Barea to tally a triple-double, with a 26-point, 12-rebound, 10-assist effort in the Huskies’ double-OT victory.

Perhaps making William’s season even more impressive was the improvements he made from last year’s campaign. After averaging just 6.8 points per game in 2015-16, Williams’ +14.8 year-over-year scoring increase was one of the best marks in the country. In his four years on Huntington Avenue, Williams has amassed 1,362 points, good for 15th all time on Northeastern’s scoring list.

“I’ve been here for four years and I feel like each year has been a learning experience,” Williams said.

Begley quietly enjoyed a breakout campaign this year as well, enjoying career-highs in points (9.7), rebounds (3.7) and assists (3.3). The junior’s defensive contributions were highlighted by the conference thanks to a CAA-leading 1.8 steals per game. The 6’4 guard from Pearland, Texas showed off his defensive prowess at the top of NU’s 2-3 zone, and earned a starting role after sophomore Donnell Gresham was sidelined with injury.

You can catch both Williams and Begley in action on Saturday night, when the No.6 Huskies take on the No. 3 Towson Tigers in the CAA Tournament in Charleston, South Carolina. WRBB coverage will start at 8 pm. Listen here: http://www.wrbbsports.com/listen-live/

 

 

NU comeback effort falls short at UNCW

By: Jeremy Leopold

Wilmington, N.C.– For the second time in ten days, the Northeastern Huskies fell way behind at the half to UNCW and again, they made it interesting down the stretch before eventually faltering. After trailing by 23 at the break, the Huskies clawed back and cut the deficit to just four midway thought the second half before losing 74-65 in Trask Coliseum in the final game of the regular season.

The Huskies finish the season 15-15 overall, and 8-10 in the CAA. With the loss, NU became locked in the No. 6 seed for the conference tournament next weekend in Charleston, setting up a bout with No. 3 Towson on Saturday night.

The Huskies’ fatigue showed in the first half, as NU was playing on less than 48 hours rest with just seven players after a miraculous double overtime win in Elon two nights ago. Northeastern quickly fell behind 15-0, with their first basket coming at the 13:17 mark in the first half. Northeastern senior guard T.J. Williams (24 points) had 14 of the Huskies 17 first half points with the only other bucket coming from freshman forward Max Boursiquot’s three with 10 second left in the frame. 

The Huskies would wind up down 40-17 at the break. 

“We had a very flat and uninspired first half,” said  Head Coach Bill Coen. “Part of that was maybe caused by playing double-overtime the other night and being shorthanded.”

After a back and forth start to the second half, a jumper from UNCW sophomore guard C.J. Bryce (23 points) pushed the UNCW lead to 51-31 at the 13:20 mark. Northeastern then went on a 15-0 run to cut the deficit to just five with 9:33 to go.

“I thought we caught our second win in the second half; we dug down,” Coen said.

Northeastern and UNCW traded buckets and stops the rest of the way until a three from Northeastern freshman Bolden Brace (12 points) at the 1:23 mark made it 68-64.

The game would get no closer. UNCW Seniors Denzel Ingram and Abrose Mosley knocked down their free throws down the stretch to seal the win for the Seahawks, who set a program record with their 26th win of the year.

“They just made a couple too many shots for us and we spotted them way too much in the first half to make it interesting,” Coen said. 

This win for the Seahawks (26-5, 15-3 CAA) gives them their first outright CAA regular season title since 2003. They held a share of the title the past two years. The Seahawks will play on Saturday at noon against the winner of the first round matchup between Hofstra and Delaware.

Northeastern will play Towson at 8:30 on Saturday night. WRBB coverage will begin at 8. Follow this link for our exclusive live stream: http://www.wrbbsports.com/listen-live/. 

 

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.