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
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.
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
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.
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
His teammates were frustrated. A couple of them had yelled
at Strong as he charged down the lane. Bolden Brace gestured animatedly to no
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
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
is the centerpiece,” Northeastern head coach Bill Coen remarked. “I’m actually
shocked when he misses.”
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.
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].”
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.
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
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.
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.”
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.
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
Walker, Myles Franklin, and Max Boursiqout all finished in double figures.
Walker stood out, earning 15 points with a series of drives.
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.
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.
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
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
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.