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
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
“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
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
After two straight wins to
open the season, the Huskies have dropped two straight. They conclude their
five-game 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.
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
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.
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.
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
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.”
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.”
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
returns to action on Tuesday night at 7 PM against UMass Amherst.
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
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
“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
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
“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
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.
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.