Men’s Basketball Falls to Davidson

By Milton Posner

Photo by Sarah Olender

Many of Northeastern’s wins this season have resulted from a wave of improbable Jordan Roland shots. The senior guard has shown out this season, his long-distance bombs guiding the Husky offense.

On Saturday afternoon, a squad hailing from Roland’s old conference arrived at Matthews Arena to battle the Huskies. Roland stood a good chance of winning the senior guard battle over Jon Axel Gudmundsson, whose sporadic play this season is a far cry from his dominance last year.

But Gudmundsson rediscovered the play that garnered him the 2018–19 Atlantic 10 Player of the Year Award, dropping 28 points on just 12 shots and adding seven rebounds and four assists. He paced his Davidson Wildcats to a 70–63 win over the Huskies in Northeastern’s last big test before the start of conference play later this month.

Gudmundsson’s deadly onslaught and preposterous efficiency stemmed from his three-point shooting. His six makes on eight attempts were all the more remarkable considering many of them were shot from a no-rhythm standstill, under duress from Northeastern’s wing defenders, from several feet beyond the arc. After heavily riding Roland’s hot perimeter shooting hand early this season, the Huskies finally felt what it’s like to be on the other end.

“You never want to live with that,” Northeastern head coach Bill Coen said after the game. “We want to make him put it down [on the floor] a little better, our closeouts have to be better. But he was spaced pretty deep.

“Stretching your help into the post or way out to 30 feet — when you shoot with range like that it makes it tough on the defense . . . he didn’t miss; so he’s got to help you out a little bit.”

Photo by Sarah Olender

Compounding Northeastern’s defensive to-do list was Davidson big man Luka Brajkovic. The 6’10” sophomore stands five inches taller than Max Boursiquot, who guarded him for most of the game.

“You could let him go one-on-one in the post or you could try to bring somebody at him and hope that your rotation is better than his ability to pass out of it,” Coen explained. “We did both and he was elite at both things.

“In the first half I thought he did a great job getting the ball out of the post, out of the double team. We were a little slow on our rotation or closed out a little short and they didn’t miss any shots. We did a little better job playing them one-on-one and tried to beat them to the spot but he’s a good player and that’s what good players do.

“He plays with great poise and composure in the low post, which is unique. He’s got the ability to score the ball with both hands and he’s a very good passer. When you spread the floor with very good shooters and put them around that level of a post player it’s tough to guard.”

Brajkovic finished with 14 points (7–11 FG), pulled down four rebounds, and dished out three assists. Junior guard Kellan Grady, who entered the game averaging a team-leading 17 points, was quiet for most of the game. Though his seven rebounds tied Gudmundsson for the team lead, he never quite found his shot, missing nine of his 13 shots and finishing with just nine points. Some of the misses are a credit to Northeastern’s interior defense, others were makeable shots that caromed, slid, or dripped off the rim.

Photo by Sarah Olender

Despite the blend of rebounding, shooting, and time management errors that doomed Northeastern down the stretch, the Huskies played a solid game. Roland, who entered the contest as the nation’s second leader scorer behind Marquette guard Markus Howard, logged 24 points and five rebounds. Though his two-for-six effort from three-point range was pedestrian by his standards, his six-for-seven mark on two-pointers ensured a high offensive efficiency.

Senior forward Bolden Brace hit two clutch threes but missed the other five he took. Most of the shots were quality looks, and given that Brace has made about half of his threes this season, Coen was understandably unconcerned with the open misses.

“Bo’s going to end up top-five in three-pointers made,” Coen said, referring to Brace’s place on Northeastern’s all-time list. “It’s going to come and go. For whatever reason he missed his shots, but I’ll take Bolden Brace with his feet set from three any day of the week. I think most opposing coaches don’t feel too comfortable if he’s got his feet set.”

Shaq Walters and Tyson Walker joined Roland in double figures, with each netting 11 points. Walters added five rebounds and two assists, and — a couple of airballed jumpshots notwithstanding — played a productive, energetic game. He even showed off some new moves.

Walker tacked on five assists and tallied 36 minutes despite being sent to the bench twice after hard body-check fouls from Davidson big men. Two of his assists yielded dunks, including a gorgeous transition feed to Walters for a one-handed spike.

Despite entering the game shooting a substandard 33 percent from downtown, the Wildcats won the game on the perimeter, nailing two more threes than the Huskies despite taking four fewer shots. Northeastern’s season-low turnovers (none of which yielded fastbreak points for Davidson) helped them gain momentum after halftime and tie the game. But Gudmundsson found the range again, Brajkovic’s gravity re-opened the floor, and Northeastern had no answer.

Northeastern (5–5) has four remaining games in December, all road games. After a weeklong rest, they will fly to Michigan for tilts against Eastern Michigan (December 17) and Detroit Mercy (December 19). After another break, they begin conference play against Towson (December 28) and James Madison (December 30).

WRBB will not broadcast those games, but will upload game stories to the website. On December 27, the day before Northeastern opens CAA play, the site will feature a breakdown of the Huskies’ CAA opponents, including rankings and analysis of their non-conference performance and what to expect moving forward.

Men’s Basketball Manhandles Maine, Roland Scores 1000th Point

By Michael Petillo

Photo by Sarah Olender

Jordan Roland tallied 28 points and the Northeastern Huskies defended home court against the Maine Black Bears, winning 78–63 on Wednesday night. Roland notched his 1,000th career point while leading the Huskies to their second consecutive win.

Northeastern (5–4) started slowly, committing turnovers on each of their first three possessions before a Roland three broke the ice.

The Huskies outplayed Maine (2–6) for most of the first half, getting scoring bursts from freshman Tyson Walker and redshirt sophomore Jason Strong to maintain a solid margin for most of the period. The Black Bears moved the ball well, however, keeping the game close by beating the Northeastern defense on several backdoor cuts for easy layups.

Northeastern coach Bill Coen made the necessary adjustments at halftime to slow the Maine attack. The Huskies built a double-digit lead and held it for most of the second half.

“I thought it was just a bigger commitment to our original game plan. We did it better and with more urgency in the second half,” Coen said.

Northeastern turned up their defensive intensity, turning 16 Maine turnovers into 22 points. Walker and Bolden Brace paced the team with four steals each.

Maine mounted a comeback with around eight minutes to play, but Northeastern consistently answered, usually thanks to Strong, Walker, or Roland, whose last two free throws put him into the 1,000-point scoring club. The feat is remarkable considering Roland spent his first two years coming off the bench for George Washington, scoring less than 300 points. He is now 39th on Northeastern’s all-time list.

Roland was as reserved and humble as ever following his big performance. “Obviously it feels good, it’s a milestone, but I feel like it’s not something I’m super concerned with,” he said. “We’re trying to win a CAA Championship this year and that’s the main thing that I’m really focused on.”

Northeastern returns to action at Matthews Arena this Saturday against Davidson, where they’ll try to extend their winning streak to three games. Milton Posner and Mack Krell will be on the call, with coverage beginning at 3:45 PM EST.

Men’s Basketball Tops Weber State Behind Three-Point Torrent

By Milton Posner

Photo by Sarah Olender

As Northeastern took the court against Weber State Wednesday morning, they were fresh off a close defeat at Drake’s hands, a defeat caused in part by 19 Northeastern turnovers and the resulting disparity in shot attempts.

For the second day in a row, Northeastern give the ball away 19 times. But this time, they did everything else right, and walked away with a 79–69 win over the Wildcats in their third and final game in the Gulf Coast Showcase in Estero, Florida.

Northeastern hit first, and they hit hard. Tyson Walker opened the game with a three-pointer.

When Weber State’s Cody John responded with a three, Jordan Roland hit right back with a triple of his own. On the Huskies’ next possession, Bolden Brace snatched an offensive rebound from the jaws of three Wildcats. The contested fadeaway three they earned from the rebound doesn’t seem like a bargain on its face. But when it’s Jordan Roland taking the shot, this sort of thing can happen.

A moment later, when Shaquille Walters threaded a bounce pass to Walker for a transition layup, Weber State was forced to call for time. Three minutes in, Northeastern had opened an 11–3 lead.

When the teams resumed play, Northeastern decided the right corner was looking pretty good. Brace set up shop there, Roland dished him the rock, and Brace nailed a three, passing Chaisson Allen for sole possession of sixth place on Northeastern’s career three-point list.

Seconds later, Roland stole the ball, pushed the pace, and found Walters behind the line in the same spot. Good.

Next possession, same shooter, same spot. Good.

After two made free throws by Greg Eboigbodin, Brace tried a pump-fake, sidestep three from the same spot. Same result.

After two games of tough shots, the Husky offense had finally clicked. The ball moved without friction, passes were crisp, players moved without the ball. Passers screened for the players they dished to and any player who caught the ball immediately did something with it, preventing Weber State from rotating to shooters in time. The open looks helped NU shoot 57 percent from three — including 10-for-14 in the first half — a marked improvement from the 31 percent they shot in last two games.

Northeastern swarmed Weber State’s passing lanes, choking their offense, forcing live ball turnovers, and generating easy transition looks. That, plus the infrequent whistles in the first ten minutes, aided the Huskies’ momentum and helped them jump out to a 20-point first half lead.

Then Northeastern turned the ball over five times in two minutes, Weber State trimmed the lead to 13, and it appears as though yesterday’s habits were returning to bite the Huskies.

But Eboigbodin and Roland had other plans. Their superb play to close the half handed the Huskies an 18-point lead entering the locker room.

In the last three games, Eboigbodin has played more minutes — and scored more points — than in any of the games before. Wednesday’s game saw his best effort yet, as he logged 13 points (5–6 FG, 3–3 FT) pulled down seven rebounds, and dished out three assists without turning the ball over once. He showed off his agile post moves with a couple of jump hooks, finished a nifty lob from Walker, and even drove to the basket for an and-one layup.

But his best play came a minute into the second half. He had the ball on the wing when Brace took a free-throw line screen and curled along the right side of the lane toward the basket. The screen didn’t get Brace much separation and he wasn’t expecting a pass. But Eboigbodin threw a bounce pass so perfect that Brace, who wasn’t looking, corralled it and laid it in without a hitch.

Roland, who scored a combined 22 points in his last two games, came alive Wednesday with a 24-point showing. Eleven of those points came in the last four minutes of the first half, courtesy of two three-point fouls — he made five of six free throws — and two three-point buckets.

Brace turned in his first quality performance since his 20-point, 12-rebound showing against UMass on November 12. He picked up just two fouls — which allowed him to play 36 minutes — and notched 18 points (7–10 FG, 4–6 3FG) and seven boards. It was just his second double-digit scoring effort in eight games this year, and it showed how much more efficient, well-spaced, and free-flowing the offense can be when teams need to worry about him and throw as many bodies at Roland.

Though the stat sheet would claim Tyson Walker’s eight points and five assists were somewhat negated by his four fouls and four turnovers, his passing was eye-popping. He threw crisp, accurate, cross-court passes to open shooters, demonstrating chemistry and positional awareness that would be excellent for anyone, let alone a freshman point guard in his eighth game with the team.

Shaq Walters, starting his sixth game this season, turned in eight points and eight rebounds. He nailed a couple of first-half threes, indicative of his expanded skill set and role in the offense.

After three games in three days, the Huskies (4–4) can rest for six days before their Wednesday tilt against Maine at Matthews Arena. Michael Petillo and Matt Neiser will call the game for WRBB, with coverage beginning at 6:45 PM EST.

Nineteen Turnovers Sink Men’s Basketball Against Drake

By Milton Posner

Photo by Sarah Olender

As the game clock steadily ticked off its final seconds, Jason Strong took charge. He took the ball out top, put his head down, and drove down the right side of the lane. He tossed the ball with a gentle hooking motion, and his layup settled neatly into the basket with 0.6 seconds remaining.

His teammates were frustrated. A couple of them had yelled at Strong as he charged down the lane. Bolden Brace gestured animatedly to no avail.

Northeastern needed a three, not a two. Strong’s layup pulled cut the deficit to one, and there wasn’t enough time left to do anything about it.

An execution mistake. But Northeastern’s 59–56 loss to Drake on Tuesday afternoon didn’t stem from Strong’s mistake alone.

It began with turnovers. Both teams had 64 possessions, and Northeastern gave the ball up on 19 of theirs. Nearly every Husky had at least one giveaway; five players had more than two. Jordan Roland led the way with six; Max Boursiquot — despite playing just 12 minutes before fouling out — had four.

The turnovers handed the Bulldogs a 20–7 advantage in points off turnovers, but in a game without a ton of transition basketball, the biggest turnover-induced hurt came elsewhere. Northeastern lost despite outshooting Drake by 14 percent, a fact possible only because Drake attempted 59 shots to Northeastern’s 39. Northeastern’s turnovers — combined with the Bulldogs’ 11–2 offensive rebounding margin — allowed for the gap in attempts.

Foul trouble hampered the Huskies in the first half, with Brace and Tyson Walker both heading to the bench with two early fouls. It was the third consecutive game in which foul trouble has limited Brace’s playing time. Walker, who exited after just five minutes, did not return. The personnel losses hurt a team already missing starting big man Tomas Murphy, who has missed the last three games with an ankle injury.

Heavy Drake fouling put Northeastern in the bonus around the halfway mark in the first half; they spent the last four minutes in the double bonus. The Huskies turned this into an 11–4 free-throw advantage, which helped them reclaim the lead after an 8–0 Drake run to open the game. Myles Franklin led the way, netting five points from the charity stripe.

Roland struggled for the second straight game. Though he enjoyed some success driving to the basket and nailed a spectacular, standstill, fadeaway three-pointer. Drake’s constant, intense defense often denied him the ball and crowded him on jumpshots. He made just one of six attempts from three and lost the ball trying to burrow his way to the basket through multiple defenders. He finished with 13 points and, for the first time this season, ceded the title of nation’s top scorer. Delaware guard Nate Darling now tops the list.

That said, this and-one floater was gorgeous.

Brace stayed out of foul trouble in the second half and netted himself a milestone. His two three-pointers tied him with Chaisson Allen for sixth place on Northeastern’s career list.

Shaq Walters played a strong first half for the Huskies, scoring nine points and helping the Huskies to a 7–0 run and a three-point halftime lead.

Roman Penn and Anthony Murphy led the Bulldogs, combining for 32 points. Penn had an inefficient shooting night but made up for it at the foul line, while Murphy nailed six of his 11 shots and pulled down seven boards.

Though the offensive struggles felled Northeastern, their defense was largely solid. They rotated well to perimeter shooters, limiting the Bulldogs to a measly 24 percent from downtown. Greg Eboigbodin played well on the interior, contesting inside shots and picking up just two fouls, a big improvement considering his foul troubles in the season’s first few games.

But it was ultimately in vain. The mistakes kept piling up — errant passes, unsure ballhandling, a slew of travels and offensive fouls, anything to end possessions without attempting a shot. The frustration came to a head on the last play.

With Northeastern inbounding the ball down three with 11 seconds remaining, it’s possible head coach Bill Coen instructed his team to sprint downcourt, get a quick two, and foul. It would certainly explain Strong’s no-hesitation drive. But Myles Franklin stumbled catching an inbounds pass in the backcourt. Though he ultimately saved the ball, it ate several precious seconds off the clock. When Drake put the lead back up to three with a pair of free throws, Northeastern couldn’t do anything with 0.2 seconds left.

Northeastern will play its final game of the tournament tomorrow at 11 AM EST against the loser of the Murray State–Weber State game.

Men’s Basketball Falls to South Alabama

By Milton Posner

Photo by Sarah Olender

As Boston trudges inexorably toward winter, as the days end earlier, the winds blow harder, and the temperatures drop, the Northeastern Huskies migrated south, if only for a few days.

They flew to Fort Myers, Florida for the Gulf Coast Showcase, an annual eight-team tournament. The Huskies’ three-day, three-game slate is, according to head coach Bill Coen, “perfect practice” for the CAA Tournament in March.

The Huskies — fresh off the most dominant win in program history — returned to earth, losing 74–62 to the South Alabama Jaguars Monday afternoon. The Huskies’ 62 points are a season low, and a stark departure for a team that averaged 79 points through their first five games.

Four double-digit scorers — Chad Lott, Josh Ajayi, Trhae Mitchell, and Andre Fox — powered a balanced Jaguar scoring effort. Lott shone among the four, netting 19 points on nine shots and pulling down seven rebounds. Ajayi logged a 14-point, 10-rebound double-double.

Though Mitchell scored his 14 points on an efficient nine shots, his biggest contribution was defending Northeastern’s Jordan Roland, who entered the game averaging an NCAA-leading 30 points per game. Mitchell hounded Roland, denying him the ball and preventing him from developing a rhythm. When Roland did catch the ball, he often saw two defenders jumping out at him, eating up any space a ball screen might have bought him. Even when he looked to draw the defenders and dish to open teammates, South Alabama’s constant pressure allowed them to enlist an ever-ticking shot clock as a sixth defender.

Roland hit a number of difficult shots through the team’s first five games, but today’s shots were next to impossible — flailing floaters, twisting layups, long threes, almost always tightly contested by one or two Jaguars. Many of them missed the rim entirely. A frustrated Roland finished with nine points on 3-for-13 shooting. He still leads college basketball in scoring, beating out fellow CAA guard Nate Darling (Delaware) by four tenths of a point.

Despite his struggles, Roland still notched the game’s two biggest highlights. The first came with five minutes remaining in the first half, when he stole the ball, drove downcourt, and hacked it through over Lott.

The next came about halfway through the second half, when he splashed a no-rhythm thirty-footer from out top.

The Huskies struggled to control the ball, yielding 23 points to the Jaguars on 16 turnovers. South Alabama’s inside dominance is slightly apparent in their six-point advantage in the paint, but becomes clearer with their 18–8 advantage in made free throws. The higher-quality shots they earned inside allowed them to outshoot the Huskies from the floor by 13 percent.

Bolden Brace, who would normally shore up these deficiencies for the Huskies, was scoreless in just 17 minutes on the floor, as early fouls sent him to bench for the second straight game. He fouled out with a minute left in the game after attempting two shots.

There were some encouraging signs for Northeastern, as the intense pressure on Roland forced younger players to step up on offense. Freshman guard Tyson Walker and sophomore big man Greg Eboigbodin had their best games of the young season. Walker — who, earlier in the day, was named CAA Rookie of the Week for the second time this season — dropped 20 points (8–13 FG, 2–3 3FG) and four assists in 29 minutes, assailing the Jaguars with jabstep jumpers and dashing drives.

Eboigbodin set season highs in points (12) and rebounds (9). His best play of the night came a minute into the second half, when he threw down a two-handed dunk. Three seconds later, the lights in the arena went out, leaving both squads to strategize and shoot around in the dark for about 15 minutes while building personnel scrambled to address the malfunction. Broadcasters cited a malfunction of the computer that controls the lights; Husky fans might jokingly argue otherwise.

Myles Franklin poured in eight quick points to key the Huskies’ first-half comeback, but went silent for the rest of the contest. Despite a second-half stretch where every bucket changed the lead, it was ultimately a game of runs. South Alabama forged a 15–2 in the first half; Northeastern answered it to take a one-point halftime lead. South Alabama made a run late in the second half; Northeastern had no answer. An eight-point lead became a 12-point lead through desperate intentional fouling down the stretch.

The Huskies (3–3) move to the left side of the bracket, the Jaguars (4–2) to the right. The Huskies face the Drake Bulldogs tomorrow at 11 AM EST.

Men’s Basketball Claims Largest Win in Program History

By Milton Posner

WORCESTER, MA — From 1096 to 1271, the Roman Catholic Church waged a series of wars against Muslim powers in the eastern Mediterranean. Though the Crusades arguably increased Christianity’s reach, the Church’s wealth, and the Pope’s power, the Crusaders repeatedly failed in their main goal of retaking the Holy Land.

On Tuesday night, in a conflict with far lesser stakes, the Northeastern Huskies rode into Worcester to battle the Holy Cross Crusaders on the basketball court. The modern Crusaders fared even worse than their namesake.

In 100 years of men’s basketball, Northeastern has never dominated like they did Tuesday night. It was overwhelming. It was absurd. It was borderline unfair. They eviscerated Holy Cross 101–44.

The 57-point margin of victory eclipsed the previous record of 56 set against Connecticut in 1946 and equaled against Suffolk in 1984. It is the second school scoring record the Huskies have broken in their last four games, with Jordan Roland’s 42-point masterpiece against Harvard on November 8 setting a new individual record.

Holy Cross got the scoring going with a free throw two minutes in. It was their only lead of the night, and it lasted for 15 seconds.

Their first field goal was a three-pointer five minutes in. It would be their last bucket from downtown for 35 minutes.

Northeastern turned the first half into an unmitigated farce. They clogged the passing lanes, poked the ball away from incautious ballhandlers, and reaped the benefits with easy transition buckets down the other end. They pushed the pace on almost every possession whether they had stolen the ball or not, as they recognized early that the Crusaders couldn’t keep pace.

Jordan Roland, the nation’s leading scorer entering the game, played perhaps his best basketball of the season in the first half. He dropped 21 points on 8-for-9 shooting and made all five of his threes. Almost every perimeter shot he took was tightly contested, fading away, or both. He was in such a rhythm that he almost shot from 30 feet while bringing the ball up. When a hard close forced him to shovel the ball to a teammate, his wide grin matched the feeling he and every fan in the arena had: it probably would have gone in.

Though Roland didn’t have as dominant a second half — he played just 27 minutes all game in light of the Huskies’ enormous lead — he did hit the most unbelievable shot in a game full of them. After a hesitation move forced his defender to run into him near the foul line, Roland chucked the ball up. He was nearly parallel to the floor, shooting with an awkward flailing motion, only because he thought a foul would be called.

It wasn’t, but Roland made it anyway. He finished with 28 points on 11-for-13 shooting, including 6-of-7 from downtown. When he left the game for good with 12 minutes remaining in the second half, he was one point shy of outscoring the Crusaders by himself.

“Jordan is the centerpiece,” Northeastern head coach Bill Coen remarked. “I’m actually shocked when he misses.”

When Roland wasn’t dominating, Jason Strong was. The seldom-used forward contributed 17 minutes on a night when regular starting big man Tomas Murphy sat with an ankle injury (Coen doesn’t expect the injury will sideline Murphy for long). Strong nailed seven of his eight shots — including all four threes — and finished with a career-high 18 points and six rebounds. His textbook, upright shooting form was on full display.

“I think he’s been a little bit frustrated at times early on,” Coen said of Strong. “But he attacked practice this week. That’s the type of player he can be. He might be our second-best shooter [after Roland].”

By halftime, Northeastern had opened up a 63–23 lead. Coen typically waits to empty his bench until the closing minutes of a blowout, when his lead is secure beyond any reasonable doubt. By the end of the first half, all 11 Huskies that dressed to play had seen the court. Strong, Quirin Emanga, Vito Cubrilo, and Guilien Smith — who entered tonight’s contest with a combined 13 minutes of playing time this season — played 53 combined minutes tonight.

“It was an opportunity for us to go deeper in the bench,” Coen observed. “We’re going to need that later on in the season, certainly in the tournament down in Florida.”

Northeastern shot a ludicrous 71 percent from the floor — and 75 percent from three — in the first half. Some of the threes were difficult, contested shots that went in anyway, but many of them were open shots earned through crisp passing, strong ball screens, movement off the ball, and a nearly constant transition pace.

“When you’re catching the ball in rhythm, [you get] much better shots,” Coen said. “We shared the ball at a high level tonight, and I think that set the tone. That type of passing got contagious, and then the basket got real big for us.”

Northeastern’s 42–24 rebounding edge makes sense in light of Holy Cross’s abysmal shooting (17–57 FG, 2–27 3FG). It’s easier to get rebounds when the other team is bricking most of their shots. But Northeastern’s 11–9 offensive rebounding edge is nothing short of remarkable considering they had so few opportunities to get them. Greg Eboigbodin led the rebounding with eight, followed by Strong’s six. Emanga and Shaq Walters both registered five-point, five-rebound games.

Eboigbodin scored six efficient points, but his biggest contribution was his defense. He played a season-high 25 minutes and committed one foul, a season low. His coverage on Holy Cross’s ball screens — stepping up on good shooters, dropping back to contain drivers, and hedging when appropriate — defended Northeastern’s interior territory against the Crusaders and helped the Huskies build and sustain momentum.

Tyson Walker, Myles Franklin, and Max Boursiqout all finished in double figures. Walker stood out, earning 15 points with a series of drives.

Besides shooting and rebounding, Northeastern won the battle of assists (23–7), steals (13–7), fastbreak points (21–6), points in the paint (38–22), and points off turnovers (24–6), among others. There were no individual bright spots for the Crusaders; their four leading scorers combined for just 32 points and all of them missed more shots than they made. Leading scorer Drew Lowder missed all six of his three-point attempts in Holy Cross’s biggest home loss since they started playing at the Hart Center in 1975.

The win bumped Northeastern to 3–2 on the year; the Crusaders are winless in four games. Northeastern will fly to Fort Myers, Florida for the Gulf Coast Showcase, where they begin play against South Alabama Monday at 11 AM ET.

Even though Northeastern entered the game on a two-game skid, and even without the hot-handed Tomas Murphy, the Huskies were expected to handle Holy Cross. They were not expected to bludgeon them to this degree, in this manner.

The first half was a wonder, when any Northeastern player could cast up a contested three with everyone in the building assuming it would fall. The hot shooting, mixed with the volume of turnovers the Husky defense forced, made it seem as though Northeastern was making more shots than Holy Cross was taking. The game was a fastbreak and the Huskies were running it.

It wasn’t suspenseful. It wasn’t competitive. It bordered on being a joke. But, especially for the first 20 minutes, it was a sight to behold.

Men’s Basketball Drops Second Straight

Image credit: nuhuskies.com

By Michael Petillo

Old Dominion used strong rebounding and defense to knock off Northeastern Saturday afternoon by a score of 76–69. ODU outrebounded the Huskies 36–26 — including a 14–6 margin on the offensive glass and an 11–3 second-chance points advantage — and pulled away during the last few minutes of what was, for the most part, a close game.

Old Dominion’s length and athleticism bothered Northeastern from the start, and the Monarchs jumped out to an early 13–3 lead. Husky senior guard Jordan Roland began to find his offense, scoring 18 of Northeastern’s 33 first-half points and trimming the Monarch lead to six by halftime.

In the second half, the Northeastern offense stagnated for long stretches, with no Husky stepping up as a consistent scoring option behind Roland. For ODU, guard Xavier Green turned on the offense with 18 of his 24 points coming in the second frame. The redshirt junior seemed to get a key bucket every time Northeastern got within striking distance.

Old Dominion’s aggressive defensive style forced 18 Husky turnovers and yielded 16 fast break points for the Monarchs, something Northeastern head coach Bill Coen lamented after the game.

“Usually when you play contrasting styles, it’s the team that executes the best at what they do and this is what they do,” he said. “We have to deal with aggressiveness. You can’t leave the ball out in public property, you have to put it away and be strong with it.”

Roland finished with 29 points (10–19 FG, 6–10 3FG), and at 31 per game he still leads college basketball. But while three Monarchs — Green, Jason Wade, and Malik Curry — finished in double figures, no Husky joined Roland in that category. Same goes for their scoring averages through four games; Bolden Brace is second on the team at 9.8 per game.

After two straight wins to open the season, the Huskies have dropped two straight. They conclude their opening stretch against Massachusetts teams Tuesday night against Holy Cross. Milton Posner and Matt Neiser will call the action, with coverage beginning at 6:45 PM ET.

Men’s Basketball Loses First of Season

Image credit: nuhuskies.com

By Milton Posner

For the first time this season, Jordan Roland — whose 81 points through two games had garnered himself and his team national recognition — did not log an otherworldly performance.

For the first time this season, Northeastern played the balanced offensive game last year’s team did so well.

And for the first time this season, they lost, succumbing to the UMass Minutemen, 80–71, under a torrent of second-half three-pointers. The loss — Northeastern’s fifth straight against UMass — dropped the Huskies to 2–1 and boosted the Minutemen to 3–0.

The first few minutes of the game featured a duel between big men: UMass freshman Tre Mitchell and Northeastern junior Tomas Murphy. Murphy, who had been quiet in the season’s first two games, struck first with a putback layup. Mitchell responded with his own layup.

Murphy notched another layup when Northeastern broke UMass’ full-court press. Mitchell countered with a three.

Murphy converted a two-handed jam off a nifty hook pass from Tyson Walker. Mitchell splashed another three.

Murphy laid home another easy one on an up-and-under pass from Bolden Brace, at which point both teams decided they should probably defend these guys a little better. Improved ball denial slowed both players, though consecutive threes and a transition finger roll from Brace kept the Husky offense from stagnating. Northeastern hit six of their first eight shots as both teams pushed the ball in transition.

Roland didn’t take a shot for the game’s first five minutes and didn’t score until a lefty floater nine minutes in. Despite a full-court dash for an and-one layup a few minutes later, he struggled to find the red-hot touch he showed in the previous two games. He may have been impacted by a hard fall he took after being undercut on a drive, which forced him to brace his fall with his hands.

The Minutemen took their first lead of the contest about 10 minutes in, when their press finally forced a turnover and they converted an open layup. That play notwithstanding, Northeastern’s spacing and crisp passing overcame the press almost every time.

With about seven minutes remaining, Murphy notched consecutive buckets with a breakaway dunk and a reverse layup, the latter courtesy of the fine interior passing that netted the Huskies a 24–14 first-half advantage in paint scoring. Northeastern’s defense dropped back and hedged on ball screens as appropriate, denying access to the middle of the court and limiting the number of easy shots at the rim.

With five minutes to play, Mitchell broke a 1-for-8 UMass stretch with a gorgeous spin into an and-one layup. As the clock wound down in the first half, Northeastern held a one-point lead. After Jordan Roland’s three-point attempt hit the shot clock — he flailed trying unsuccessfully to draw a foul — freshman UMass guard Sean East II notched the highlight of the night for college basketball, and perhaps for all of sports.

With 0.6 seconds on the clock, teammate Samba Diallo inbounded the ball from under Northeastern’s basket. He dropped the ball in nonchalantly, as if to concede the last bits of clock. He didn’t think it was worth flinging the ball toward the basket from the opposite side of the court.

East did. He fielded the ball and chucked it skyward from just behind Northeastern’s free-throw line. The ball sailed 80 feet, then hit nothing but the bottom of the net.

Diallo kept strolling calmly downcourt, his posture and demeanor unchanged. The rest of the team sprinted straight into the locker room.

Though Northeastern had dominated UMass down low for much of the half, nine Husky turnovers had allowed the Minutemen more chances at the basket. Roland, the nation’s top scorer entering the game, took just six shots. Despite a dozen points apiece from Brace and Murphy — and the turnover-forcing help defense slowing Mitchell in the post — Northeastern trailed, 36–34.

Brace opened the half by matching East’s impossible three with a difficult one of his own. With his dribble exhausted and the shot clock ticking down, he swished a fadeaway drifter to retake the lead.

But East’s shot marked a turning point in the Minutemen’s three-point fortunes. After hitting just five of their 13 attempts from downtown in the first half, UMass went 8-for-14 in the second. Mitchell, East, and Carl Pierre finished with multiple makes from distance.

Djery Baptiste came off the bench and clogged the middle, denying the Huskies the inside touches that powered their offense in the first half. Though the UMass press continued to fail at forcing turnovers, it made Northeastern begin many possessions with five or six fewer seconds on the shot clock than they would ordinarily have.

Roland saw excellent defense every time he touched the ball, and the contested shots he hit against BU and Harvard didn’t fall tonight. He did log a solid 14 points on 11 shots, but the play from the other Northeastern guards was lacking. Tyson Walker and Myles Franklin made just one shot each, their combined seven assists soured by a combined six turnovers.

Brace put up 20 points, 12 rebounds, and five assists; he’s averaging a team-high nine rebounds through three games. Murphy sank nine of his 12 shots en route to 18 points. Shaquille Walters notched nine points — his best in a Husky uniform — and five boards. For UMass it was Mitchell, Pierre, and East, who combined for 55 points and all made more shots than they missed.

Max Boursiquot, who took a hard fall after a rebound in the second half against BU, has not played in the two games since.

The question of where Northeastern’s offense would come from after the departures of Pusica, Occeus, Gresham, and Green were deferred in the first two games by Roland’s superhuman efforts. But if Roland is returning to earth, the question becomes more pertinent. Brace and Murphy provided excellent play inside, leaving the non-Roland members of the backcourt as tonight’s culprits. Northeastern next takes the court Saturday at home against Old Dominion.

Michael Petillo and Adam Doucette will have the call, with coverage beginning at 12:45 PM ET.

Men’s Basketball Tops Harvard, Roland Sets Franchise Record

Photo by Sarah Olender

By Michael Petillo

On Tuesday night against BU, Northeastern senior guard Jordan Roland scored 39 points, just shy of the school record of 41 held by Husky legends J.J. Barea and Reggie Lewis. Northeastern needed every one of those points, as they edged BU out in the closing seconds.

Tonight, the Harvard Crimson, a team that has received votes in the AP Top 25 rankings, strolled into Matthews Arena. The Jordan Roland Experience awaited them.

Roland dropped 42 spectacular points, setting a school record and leading the Huskies (2–0) to an 84–79 win over the Crimson in their home opener. Roland bumped his per game scoring average to 40.5, still the best in college basketball.

Roland got his offense going early, netting the Huskies’ first 11 points in an outburst that included three three-pointers. The Matthews Arena crowd was rocking as Northeastern leapt out to a 13–2 advantage within the game’s first four minutes. Roland’s hot hand was complemented by 10 first-half points from freshman point guard Tyson Walker, and Northeastern took a 44–27 lead into the halftime locker room.

Photo by Sarah Olender

The tide changed in the second half as Harvard’s offense kicked into high gear. Sophomore guard Noah Kirkwood and senior forward Chris Lewis led the charge for the Crimson (1–1), who cut the Husky lead to as little as three points on two separate occasions. 

Northeastern head coach Bill Coen said of the Crimson’s second half performance, “It looked for a while we were never gonna get a rebound. But, you gotta give them credit; they’re a good team, they’re an experienced team, they’re a tournament-tested team.”

Photo by Sarah Olender

But it was Roland’s night. Every time Northeastern needed a key bucket to stop a Harvard run, they turned to their budding superstar to make it happen. Roland dropped an efficient 23 points in the second half, and his most important bucket came with three minutes remaining and his team clinging to a three-point advantage. After catching the ball at the top of the key, Roland rose into his jump shot while being bumped by Harvard guard Rio Haskett. Roland buried the three anyway. The Huskies regained the momentum and rode out the last few minutes thanks to clutch free throw shooting and ball security.

Roland was humble as ever following his record-breaking night, saying of the record, “It means a lot. More importantly we got the win, but breaking records obviously is something that feels kinda good.”

Coen was complimentary of Roland, saying “I can’t say enough about his approach in the offseason. He’s been so professional and consistent every day — getting extra shots, getting into the gym, taking care of his body, doing all the right things.”

Northeastern returns to action on Tuesday night at 7 PM against UMass Amherst.

Men’s Basketball Bests BU in Exhilarating Season Opener

By Milton Posner

When the 2019–20 season ends and the CAA releases its all-conference teams, it’s entirely possible that Jordan Roland’s left hand will make the first team.

Roland is right-handed, not that you could tell from watching Tuesday night’s game. The 6’1” senior guard, who usually feasts on a steady diet of long-distance bombs, spent his 36 minutes of court time taking a carving knife to Boston University’s interior defense.

He used off-ball curl screens and pindowns to get half a step on his defender, put them in jail, and finish over the Terrier big men with lefty layups and floaters from every conceivable angle. His shots hit the rim, lost all momentum, and bounced gently around the cylinder before falling through the net.

“I’ve always been kinda naturally ambidextrous,” he said after the game. “I work on that all the time, trying to finish with both hands. I have a tendency to go left.”

“My grandpa always says I never make [lefty shots],” he laughed. “So I have to give him a call tonight.”

His grandpa won’t have much of a retort. Roland’s midrange exploits yielded 39 points and powered the Northeastern Huskies to a 72–67 win over their crosstown rival, tying the all-time series at 74 wins apiece. Northeastern has won eight of the last eleven meetings.

“We were excited to get out there and play,” Northeastern head coach Bill Coen said. “This is a rivalry that goes back to the beginning of time.

“It always comes down to this.”

The first half was frantic. BU took a short lead within the first few minutes and retained it, though they never pulled ahead by more than seven. Sophomore Walter Whyte keyed the run for the Terriers, cooking the Huskies with perimeter shooting, active rebounding, and consuming defense. Sophomore Alex Vilarino was a bouncing ball of energy, jawing at the Northeastern guards on defense and darting to the basket on offense. The two finished with a combined 40 points on 16-for-25 shooting on the night.

Both teams played a bit sloppy to start, fumbling the ball on drives and passes in the way you’d expect in a season opener when the teams are a bit rusty. The small miscues didn’t yield a ton of transition basketball, but, when combined with the close score, they gave the game a sense of urgency. BU took a one-point lead into the halftime break.

Northeastern emerged from the locker room with fresh energy. They gained the lead several minutes into the half and, though the game would see numerous ties, BU never led again.

Roland’s play was consistently spectacular across both halves, but it was particularly apparent in the game’s last ten minutes. He had committed three fouls in 14 seconds and gone to the bench, but Coen quickly inserted him back into the game.

“I was obviously pretty upset with myself,” Roland said. “I just wanted to be able to go sit down and take a second . . . I thought I was gonna have to take a little bit more time on the bench.”

“He just put us on his back and carried us right when we needed him,” Coen remarked. “I couldn’t be more proud of him and the rest of the guys.”

Roland wasn’t the only Husky who played a stellar game. Junior Max Boursiquot chipped in 10 points, four rebounds, and three steals in his first game back after missing last season with a hip injury. But with eight minutes to play in the second half, he took a hard fall and watched the rest of the game from the bench.

“We’ll get him checked out and see how he comes out of it tomorrow morning,” Coen said. “It’s always an anxious moment to get back on the floor and trust your body . . . I thought he [gave] us a really nice spark.”

Tyson Walker was a pleasant surprise for the Huskies in his first college game. After an offensively quiet first half, the six-foot guard spent the second half charging fearlessly to the basket, finishing, and opening up chances for teammates. He finished with 11 points, second on the team after Roland.

“You can see the obvious talent,” Coen gushed. “He’s still adjusting to college basketball . . . when you see him later on in January and February I think you’re gonna be really excited about what he brings to the floor.”

But for all the deserved hype for Roland’s performance, the joy of seeing Boursiquot return after a year sidelined, and the obvious potential of Tyson Walker, the night’s biggest moment went to a player whose six-point effort would otherwise vanish into the box score.

With less than one minute remaining and the game tied at 65, Northeastern looked to separate themselves. They sought Roland, who had maintained his hot hand all night. But the Terriers weren’t about to let Roland beat them, and didn’t give him sufficient room to shoot. So with the game clock showing 35 seconds, and the shot clock nearly exhausted, Bolden Brace nailed a three to give Northeastern a lead it wouldn’t relinquish.

“Jordan gave it up unselfishly and Bo stepped in confidently,” Coen said. “He’s a guy that’s played on championship teams and knows what this is all about.”

It was hard to know what to make of this team heading into the season. The graduations of Vasa Pusica and Anthony Green were expected, but the premature exits of Donnell Gresham Jr. and Shawn Occeus cast doubt on whether the team could defend its CAA title.

First-game rust notwithstanding, the Huskies made a statement in tonight’s opener. Tyson Walker proved he’s for real. Max Boursiquot proved his mobility and aggressiveness are back. Bolden Brace proved he’s not afraid of the big shots. And Jordan Roland, with each tough shot he hit, proved he belongs in the same sentence as the CAA’s best.

The Huskies take on the Harvard Crimson in their home opener at 8 PM on Friday. Michael Petillo and Matt Neiser will have the call for WRBB.