Belief, that is what in the end, helped the Huskies come back from the biggest deficit they had faced all year. Trailing 30-7 with 3:36 left to go in the first half, it looked as if the Huskies just didn’t have it in what was their most important game of the year. Plenty of people will say that by having eight days off they would come out rusty, but in the first half they just looked outclassed, by a George Mason team that clearly remembered the two losses they suffered at the hands of these Huskies. The last one, a twenty point manhandling in Matthews.
The Patriots started off with 13 straight points, but Northeastern was taking shots that were within their offense, they just wouldn’t fall. Reggie Spencer had some open layups he would normally hit and Joel Smith, the leading scorer for this team started 0-5 from the field. Northeastern has relied on their defensive pressure to start their offense up, but the Patriots did a great job of finishing their plays and getting back on defense. They clearly believed that they were the better team and deserved to win in front of a crowd that was decidedly pro-George Mason, probably because the school is over 400 miles closer to Richmond. Even with the crowd cheering for GMU, the N-Zone did a fantastic job making their voices heard.
The real turning point had to have been a questionable technical foul call on the team after a clear shot clock violation on George Mason that the referee’s did not call. That technical seemed to band the Huskies together and light the fire that was missing in the first 16+ minutes. After that technical the Huskies went on a 26-2 run between the two halves. The bench got so pumped up that the referees had to go over and remind them to remain calm.
However, the Patriots continued to work and did not allow the Huskies a lead until Joel Smith hit a three with 8:29 left to go to make it 52-51. The Huskies would only see the lead one more time until Jon Lee scored the game-winning basket with three seconds left to go. Jon was able to use a hesitation move to drive right by Bryon Allen on the right side and hit the scoop layup that sent the Husky faithful into a frenzy. Allen had been doing the same thing to Lee all game, but was unable to stay in front of the senior co-captain, and got zero help from his big men down low.
It was a game that proved once and for all that this Northeastern team trusts their system and coach to lead them out of any deficit. Jon and Joel did their parts leading the way by each scoring 14 points and Demetrius Pollard came off the bench and scored 13, including a huge three that gave the Huskies 7 points with 4:19 left to go in the first half. Qunicy Ford also finished in double figures with 10 points. Last but not least Reggie Spencer finished with eight points, and struggled from the line, nonetheless he was invaluable at the top of the press, a change from David Walker who usually is the focal point. He ran more than I have ever seen and was the epitomized hustle points.
Meanwhile for George Mason it was junior Bryon Allen who led the way with 20 points and kept the Patriots in it with some clutch points. Four other players had double figures for Paul Hewitt’s club. Jonathon Arledge, Sherrod Wright, and Vertrail Vaughns all had ten, and Marko Gujanicic finished with 12 off the bench.
Northeastern will play in the Championship match tonight at 7:00 pm against James Madison.