Men’s Hockey Buries Providence with Offensive Onslaught

Image Credit: nuhuskies.com

By Christian Skroce

BOSTON —Providence coach Nate Leaman summed up tonight’s game the only way he could: “We got our butts kicked. That’s my opening statement.”

It had been three years since the Huskies had last beaten Providence, and it looked like that streak would continue tonight. After falling to the Friars in Providence last night, 3–2, Northeastern knew it had to pull off a win at Matthews Arena, especially given the muddled landscape of Hockey East early this season.

“Last night I thought that we weren’t physical; we let Providence dictate the game and their space, and we didn’t respond,” Northeastern head coach Jim Madigan said after the game. “One of the things we said here tonight, ‘let’s punch them in the mouth before they punch us in the mouth,’ because they are a heavy, hard team to play against, and I thought we were a little too passive last night.”

Jason O’Neill got the scoring going for the Friars 17 minutes into the first period with a weak attempt that slid underneath Northeastern netminder Craig Pantano. The Providence lead did not last long, as just 38 seconds later, freshman defenseman Mike Kesselring netted his first collegiate goal to level the score at one. After a nice juke from the blue line, Kesselring slid a shot through the legs of Providence goalie Michael Lackey. Madigan praised the goal after the game, saying “I liked how we responded immediately after that first goal. It was important to make sure they didn’t get too comfortable.”

After the first-period stalemate, the Huskies came alive in the second frame, putting together their best period of the season. Grant Jozefek began the period by finishing off an excellent feed from sophomore defenseman Jordan Harris.

Harris was not done yet, as a minute later he fired a power-play shot from the blue line past Lackey to give the Huskies a two-goal lead.

Senior forward Matt Filipe extended the Husky lead to 4–1 soon after with an impressive breakaway finish off a neutral-zone feed from freshman defenseman Jayden Struble. The goal forced Lackey out of the game, as Leaman let junior goalie Gabe Mollot-Hill finish the game for Providence.

Providence got one back toward the end of the second frame with a Patrick Moynihan goal, but the Huskies didn’t panic. With two minutes remaining in the period, freshman defender Jeremie Bucheler put away his own blue-line shot for his first goal of the season, giving the Huskies a 5–2 lead. Northeastern scored four second-period goals, more than they’ve scored in all but one of their 11 games this year.

Providence rebounded nicely to begin the final period, pulling within two goals after a nice finish from forward Vimal Sukumaran. The Friars pushed forward during the first ten minutes of the frame and got two power play chances to bring the game within one goal. Despite numerous close calls, Northeastern killed off both power play chances. The second penalty kill of the final period turned out to be the difference, as the Providence players were visibly deflated after failing to cut the lead to one.

Northeastern continued its physical play for the final ten minutes, eventually earning a 7–3 win after empty-net goals from Tyler Madden (his eighth of the year) and Filipe (his second of the game and third point on the night).

Northeastern’s entire penalty kill unit was tonight’s MVP. The Huskies killed all four Providence power plays, including two in the third period.

“We’ve worked on that a lot in practice, and we’ve tried to build our identity on the penalty kill,” Filipe remarked. “We have a lot of guys who want to be out there on the kill, and it’s nice to be able to rotate guys throughout.” Filipe also complimented Pantano, who had two nice games this weekend.

It was a big night for Northeastern’s impressive freshman class, with two defensemen getting their first goals of the season and two more adding assists. Madigan noted that “[Struble, Bucheler, and Kesselring] have been incredible recently. [Providence] are a heavy team, and they’re a fast team, so we knew that some of our younger guys would have to step up.”

The Huskies also got important contributions from a significant second year player. In addition to his goal and assist, Jordan Harris made several key defensive plays, logging the best game of his career in arguably the Huskies’ most important early-season contest. Harris was key to stopping Providence’s Jack Dugan, the nation’s points leader. When asked about Dugan after the game, Madigan explained, “He’s such a good player, and they use him a lot. He’s coming over the boards, [it seems like] every shift there, and then with the TV timeouts you can really use that to your advantage. It’s kind of like how we used Gaudette and Sikura a couple years ago.”

The win boosted the Huskies to 6–4–2 (3–3–1 HEA) and sets the team up nicely for next weekend’s home series against Maine. WRBB will cover both contests, starting with Friday night’s game at Matthews Arena. Jonathan Golbert and Mack Krell will call the action, with coverage starting at 6:45 PM ET.

Men’s Basketball Drops Second Straight

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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 Hockey Falls to No. 10 Providence

Photo by Sarah Olender

By Matt Neiser

After a blazing 4–1–0 start to the season, the No. 14 Northeastern men’s hockey team has been reeling a bit lately. Their next four games saw them go 0–3–1, including a 1–1 tie against Merrimack — the team Northeastern head coach Jim Madigan picked to finish last in Hockey East in the preseason coaches poll — that culminated in a heart-to-heart team meeting, per Mike McMahon of College Hockey News.

With the No. 10 Providence Friars waiting Friday in the first game of a home-and-home set, the Huskies looked to build on a dominating win over Merrimack the day of the meeting. But they faltered again, falling 3–2 to the Friars at Schneider Arena Friday night.

The Friars controlled the first period, especially early on. Providence recorded eight of the first nine shots on net, including the first six. Thankfully for Northeastern, goaltender Craig Pantano stood tall in net, racking up 17 saves and keeping the home team off the board. The Merrimack grad transfer has singlehandedly kept the Huskies in multiple games this season.

Though Providence provided much of the offense, Northeastern wasn’t without chances in the first frame. Freshman Aidan McDonough, fresh off his first career two-goal game against Merrimack, had a pair of early shots saved by Providence’s Michael Lackey. Matt DeMelis threaded a pass through to Zach Solow later in the period, but the junior couldn’t put the puck home. The Huskies had a few other half-chances — mostly off of Friar turnovers — but the 17–7 Providence shot advantage tells the tale of first-period domination.

At the end of a penalty kill early in the second period, Northeastern had their best chance of the evening on a Matt Filipe breakaway. The senior broke ahead of the pack with the puck, but was denied by Lackey as he tried to slip the shot between the netminder’s legs.

Providence broke the deadlock with about four minutes to go in the second frame. Albin Nilsson found his way behind the Husky defense before playing a pass out in front from behind the net. The pass found Jamie Engelbert waiting in the crease, and the freshman wasted no time slotting a shot past Pantano to give the Friars a 1–0 lead.

Six minutes into the third period, Tyler Madden evened things up with his team-leading seventh goal of the season. Though Madden scored the goal, it was Filipe who made the play happen. Skating into the Friar zone on the left side, the senior assistant captain shook off two separate hits along the boards as he got the puck to McDonough behind the net. McDonough backhanded it out in front of the net, hitting a streaking Madden for the one-time finish.

The game stayed deadlocked until Providence retook the lead with six and a half minutes to play. Northeastern had a chance on the other end but couldn’t put it away, leading to a Providence rush and a Spenser Young shot from the point. The shot was redirected by Tyce Thompson in the slot, causing the puck to take flight and arc perfectly over Pantano’s head into the net.

Between the officials’ initial review and Madigan’s offsides zone entry challenge, the goal was questioned for five minutes. It stood.

The Friars struck again less than two minutes later with what would prove the decider, though it was less a Providence goal than a Husky own goal. Providence junior Jason O’Neill skated in close to Pantano, who attempted to swat the puck away with his stick. He succeeded in swatting it . . . straight into O’Neill’s body, which caused it to ricochet past Pantano into the net.

A slashing penalty on Providence with 90 seconds to go in regulation gave the Huskies some hope, and defenseman Jordan Harris capitalized with a shot from the point that deflected off a skate and past Lackey to make it a one-goal game with 42 seconds remaining. Northeastern didn’t generate another chance. The Friars won, 3–2.

Northeastern played well at times, but Providence boasts one of the best offenses in college hockey. Coming into the night, the Friars led the nation in goals and assists.

The Huskies forced turnovers and generated chances off of them. They flexed their penalty kill muscles with a three-for-three night on the man disadvantage. But the red and black lacked Providence’s offensive polish and it showed in the time of possession and quality of chances generated.

These teams rematch on Saturday at Matthews Arena. Christian Skroce and Matt Neiser will be on the call, with puck drop scheduled for 8 PM.

These teams rematch on Saturday at Matthews Arena. Christian Skroce and Matt Neiser will be on the call, with puck drop scheduled for 8 PM.

Men’s Basketball Loses First of Season

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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 Hockey Bests Merrimack in Fight-Filled Penalty Fest

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By Catherine Morrison

Saturday night’s homecoming game was a tension filled dramafest. Multiple fights broke out. 23 penalties were called, with Merrimack’s 13 and Northeastern’s 10 both setting season highs. Three players were hit with 10-minute misconduct penalties.

And amid it all, Northeastern pulled out a 3–1 win.

NU’s Tyler Madden celebrated his 20th birthday by opening the scoring. Eight minutes into the first period, he fired a backhand shot into the top right corner of the goal for his sixth of the season. Only a great save by Merrimack goalie Jere Huhtamaa prevented a second Madden goal in the period.

Although there were no more first-period goals, the drama was still there as Northeastern’s Matt Filipe got into a scuffle with a Merrimack player behind the net. Filipe was called for cross checking, and Northeastern held down the fort while he was in the penalty box. Madden looked angry as he argued with the referee after the call, and was whistled shortly after when he got into it with Merrimack’s Liam Walsh. Both players were sent to the penalty box.

The second period started with two Northeastern players and one Merrimack player in the box. With thirty seconds left in the power play, Filipe joined them after he was called for hooking. Filipe slammed his stick against the glass as he skated in, drawing a whopping 10-minute penalty for misconduct.

Seven saves by Husky goalie Craig Pantano and an unsuccessful Merrimack penalty challenge helped Northeastern emerge unscathed. But the box wouldn’t remain empty for long. Northeastern’s Biagio Lerario and Merrimack’s Regan Kimins kept the seats warm after a heated faceoff yielded a dual unsportsmanlike conduct penalty.

Two minutes later, Merrimack’s Tyler Irvine was whistled for hooking. Before the PA announcer could finish announcing the penalty, Aidan McDonough slapped home a one-timer off an assist from Madden and Ryan Shea.

Shortly afterwards, Northeastern’s Zach Solow was aggressively knocked down and ate ice, but the refs didn’t call it, despite penalizing nearly everything else. The Huskies got their revenge when — after Merrimack’s Declan Carlile went to the box for interference — Aidan McDonough chipped in a floater for his second goal of the period.

The third period started with yet another power play after Northeastern’s TJ Walsh was called for tripping. With 11 minutes remaining, Lerario slammed into Merrimack’s Colin Murphy, flew over his head, and got into a scuffle on the side of the rink with some displeased Merrimack players. The fracas yielded an interference penalty for Lerario and a penalty apiece for Merrimack’s Logan Drevitch and Zach Vinnell. Northeastern failed to convert on the power play.

With five minutes remaining, Carlile finally put Merrimack on the board off an assist by Ryan Nolan and Liam Walsh. Northeastern challenged the call saying there was interference, but the call stood. The win moved Northeastern to 5–3–2 (2–2–1 HEA) and dropped Merrimack to 2–7–1 (1–3–1 HEA). The Huskies continue play with a home-and-home against Providence Friday and Saturday.

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.

Women’s Hockey Thrashes Holy Cross

Photo by Sarah Olender

By Matt Neiser

Fresh off a two-game sweep of Boston University last weekend, the No. 4 Northeastern women’s hockey team took on the winless Holy Cross Crusaders at Matthews Arena on Friday afternoon. The Huskies dominated throughout the game, generating their highest goal differential of the season in a 6–0 win.

Sophomore star Alina Mueller got the party started for Northeastern (8–1–0, 5–1–0)  just under halfway through the first period, rifling a one-timer top shelf off of a perfect feed from Chloe Aurard behind the net. Four and a half minutes later, junior Skylar Fontaine doubled the Huskies’ lead on the power play with a ripper from the point. Holy Cross (0–9–3, 0–6–0) goaltender Jada Brenon was screened on the play by her own teammate, never saw it coming, and let the puck fly right by into the net.

Photo by Sarah Olender

It was more of the same for the Huskies in the second period, as a Jess Schryver shot leaked by Brenon early in the period before Aurard tallied her team-leading sixth goal of the season late in the frame. Aurard’s initial attempt was saved, but the puck snuck through the legs of the goaltender and the sophomore tucked home the second effort.

After scoring her first goal of the season the game before against BU, junior Tessa Ward continued her success in front of net with a pair of third-period goals. The multi-goal game was the first of Ward’s career, earning her the first star of the game. Ward’s third-period pair capped off a successful game for the Huskies as they put six by the Crusaders in the shutout win.

Photo by Sarah Olender

Mueller added two assists to her first-period goal, marking her fourth-three point game through nine contests this season. The Winterthur, Switzerland native leads the team in points and assists at 19 and 14, respectively.

The shutout was Husky netminder Aerin Frankel’s third goose egg of the season, pumping her save percentage to a whopping .959 and dropping her goals against average to a measly 0.90. Frankel is putting together another stellar season for the Huskies, backstopping them to the 8–1–0 record they currently hold.

Photo by Sarah Olender

After Holy Cross snapped the Huskies’ 11-game unbeaten streak last season with a 5–3 victory (their only win of the year), this game probably meant a little extra to the home team. They showed no sign of weakness this time around, outshooting the Crusaders 55–16.

Northeastern’s next game is Friday against New Hampshire at Matthews Arena. Puck drop is scheduled for 6 PM.

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.

CAA Preview: Northeastern Huskies

Last season: 23–11 (14–4 CAA, second place), won CAA Tournament, lost in first round of NCAA Tournament

Head Coach: Bill Coen (14th season)

CAA Preseason Poll Finish: Third

Losses

  • G Vasa Pusica
  • G Donnell Gresham Jr.
  • G/F Shawn Occeus
  • F/C Jeremy Miller
  • C Anthony Green

Additions

  • G Vito Cubrilo
  • G Tyson Walker
  • G Guilien Smith
  • G Quirin Emanga
  • G/F Shaquille Walters
  • F Greg Eboigbodin
  • F Connor Braun

By Milton Posner

Notwithstanding the clobbering from Kansas that sent the Huskies home, Northeastern had an superb 2018–19 season. They overcame injuries to key players as they battled through a challenging non-conference slate, then finished second in the conference standings behind a balanced offense and crippling perimeter defense.

In the CAA Tournament, they dismissed UNCW, exacted revenge on Charleston for the previous year’s tournament final defeat, then knocked off the Hofstra Pride and its unanimous Player of the Year Justin Wright-Foreman to capture the conference crown. The March Madness berth was Northeastern’s first since 2015.

Two-time CAA first-teamer Vasa Pusica graduated, as did bruising center Anthony Green and backup big man Jeremy Miller. Northeastern also lost two juniors. Savvy combo guard Donnell Gresham Jr. joined the Georgia Bulldogs for his final college season. Lockdown perimeter defender Shawn Occeus turned pro and was drafted 35th in the NBA G League Draft by the Salt Lake City Stars, the G League affiliate of the Utah Jazz. He joins Jarrell Brantley and Justin Wright-Foreman, both CAA first teamers, in the organization.

Sweet-shooting senior guard Jordan Roland figures to be the Huskies’ biggest offensive threat. He was the team’s second-leading scorer last season behind Pusica, with his school-record 99 three-pointers accounting for 60 percent of his points. He did most of his damage as a spot-up shooter, letting Pusica and Gresham create in the pick-and-roll and benefitting from the open looks their gravity created. Without them, Roland may have to create more opportunities for himself through drives, floaters, and off-the-dribble jumpers.

After two productive years coming off the bench — the second one worthy of the CAA Sixth Man of the Year Award — Bolden Brace made the starting lineup last year. He didn’t disappoint, starting all 34 games — the only Husky to do so — and averaging ten points per game on 47 percent shooting from the field and 41 percent from three. His six rebounds per contest led the team, and his 6’6”, 225-pound frame let him slow speedy guards and hold firm against bruising forwards. The Huskies will need every ounce of his versatility this season.

Redshirt junior Max Boursiquot can provide solid offensive contributions and defensive flexibility, though the hip injury that sidelined him last season may affect his mobility. Jason Strong, Myles Franklin, and Shaquille Walters saw limited minutes off the bench last year, but will likely be called on to score a bit and prop up the Huskies’ formidable three-point defense. Redshirt sophomore Greg Eboigbodin, who practiced with the team last season, will try to fill the hole the graduating Green left in the middle.

Quirin Emanga stands out among the new recruits. He’s an athletic 6’5’ guard/forward with a seven-foot wingspan and a burgeoning skill set. For a more detailed player profile of Emanga, click here.

Connor Braun is a mobile 6’8” forward with solid handles and driving ability. Vito Cubrilo’s speed and quickness earn him buckets on drives, he’s got a sweet-looking perimeter stroke, and, like Emanga, has played high-level European youth ball. Guilien Smith averaged 12 points per game his sophomore year at Dartmouth but missed almost all of the next season due to injury and saw his minutes — and numbers — drop when he returned. If he returns to form, he can mitigate the loss of Pusica at point guard. Tyson Walker, at just six feet and 162 pounds, will look to stand tall with his flashy drives and transition speed. Bill Coen, now the CAA’s longest-tenured coach after the firing of William & Mary’s Tony Shaver, is tasked with blending the new talent.

Bottom Line: This will likely be the first time in six seasons Northeastern doesn’t have an All-CAA first team player. This makes their balanced approach even more important. Unlike last year, they have a slew of new players whose production will prove necessary. How well Bill Coen incorporates the new players, and how well they perform, will determine whether Northeastern contends for a second straight CAA title or falls to the middle of the pack.

CAA Preview: William & Mary

Last season: 14–17 (10–8 CAA), lost in CAA quarterfinals

Head coach: Dane Fischer (first season)

CAA Preseason Poll Finish: Seventh

Losses

  • G LJ Owens
  • G Chase Audige
  • G Matt Milon
  • G/F Justin Pierce
  • F Paul Rowley
  • F Chris Clark

Additions

  • G Tyler Hamilton
  • G Bryce Barnes
  • G Rainers Hermanovskis
  • G Miguel Ayesa
  • G/F Thatcher Stone
  • F Ben Wight
  • F/C Andy Van Vliet

By Milton Posner

On March 10, 2019, the College of William & Mary let a 16-point lead slip through their fingers in the CAA Tournament quarterfinal. The Delaware Blue Hens went to the next round; the Tribe went home.

But the future was bright. The Tribe had a versatile lineup with good shooters and a strong inside presence. They were CAA title contenders.

Three days later, it all began to unravel. The team announced that Tony Shaver, the Tribe’s head coach for 16 years, had been fired.

When she was hired two years ago, Athletic Director Samantha Huge conducted an internal review of the team. She declined to elaborate on why Shaver was dismissed, instead alluding to “concerns on and off the court” and not liking how the program was “trending.” She did cite a lack of NCAA Tournament appearances (W&M is one of four original Division I teams to never appear in the NCAA Tournament).

Shaver is the winningest coach in program history despite his losing record (226–268). He won CAA Coach of the Year in 2008 and 2010 and took the Tribe to four CAA Finals, but a championship eluded him. Shaver enjoyed regular season success in recent years; from 2013 to 2018 he posted five consecutive winning seasons, the first such streak in program history. W&M’s 64–42 record over the last six seasons is tied with Northeastern for best in the CAA.

The fallout from the firing was swift. Though CAA first teamer Nathan Knight likely would have explored the NBA Draft regardless, Shaver’s firing undoubtedly motivated Justin Pierce, Matt Milon, Chase Audige, and LJ Owens — the Tribe’s second, third, fourth, and fifth-leading scorers, respectively — to transfer. The quartet accounted for 59 percent of the team’s points and 49 percent of its rebounds and assists last year. New coach Dane Fischer tried to keep the team together but could only watch as his core vanished.

Knight forgoing the NBA draft is the only thing keeping W&M from rock bottom. Last year, he posted 21 points, nine rebounds, and four assists per game, and blocked twice as many shots as all but one CAA player. He was second in the conference in field goal percentage. He was the conference’s third-leading scorer and sixth-leading rebounder despite playing fewer minutes per game (30) than most other CAA stars.

Given the graduation of four of last season’s six CAA first teamers, and given the increased touches he’ll likely see after his teammates’ exodus, Knight — along with Charleston’s Grant Riller — is a favorite to win CAA Player of the Year.

Andy Van Vliet, a 7’0” senior transfer from the University of Wisconsin, will pair with Knight in the frontcourt. Though Van Vliet has a perimeter scoring touch, his and Knight’s play down low is the only area where the Tribe are likely to outplay opponents.

The rest of the squad is lacking in most important respects. After Knight, the most statistically significant returning player is junior guard Luke Loewe, who squeezed out four points, two rebounds, and two assists per game last year as a starter. The new recruits — four freshmen and two grad transfers — will have to overperform just for W&M to match their performance from last season, when they hovered around the CAA average in most stat categories.

Bottom Line: Nathan Knight is a likely 2020 NBA draft choice, and it will be fun to watch him wail on CAA big men for another season. But with the bulk of their 2018–19 offense now playing elsewhere — and the increased defensive pressure on Knight as teams swarm him down low — the Tribe’s benchwarmers and freshmen will have to pick up major slack. W&M is unlikely to escape the depths of the conference standings.