By Zolan Kanno-Youngs
(Boston, Mass.) — The game was fast, baskets were traded often but the outcome was common as the Huskies lost to University of Alabama Birmingham, 74-69, pushing their losing streak to five games in the nation’s 26th hardest schedule.
“I thought it was a winning effort but we’re not getting the results were hoping for,” said coach Bill Coen after the Huskies’ record dropped to 2-7. “We’re learning a little more about ourselves, we’re competing against some of the best teams and programs in the nation. I mean this team is coming off a win against North Carolina.”
Coach Jerod Haase’s team upset the former No. 16 seeded UNC last week behind 25 points from junior Chad Frazier. Frazier was once again UAB’s highest scorer with 19 points and 6 rebounds. Senior guard Jordan Swing scored 14 points for the second consecutive year against Northeastern.
“That’s a darn good basketball team we played against,” Haase said. “I know their record isn’t what they want it to be but they’ve played a brutal schedule. I really believe their going to have a heck of a year. Maybe that helps me feel good too about the win.”
Junior guard Demetrius Pollard gave Coen nice backcourt production with 16 points. Sophomore guard David Walker also added 12 points and six assists. Red-shirt junior Scott Eatherton continued to dominate the paint with his seventh double-double of the season with 21 points and 10 rebounds.
“He’s the only guy in the country listed at 6’8’ who’s actually 6’8. Most guys are listed 6’8’ and are actually about 6’4’ so he’s a big strong kid,” Haase said. “He plays unbelievably big and has the ability to put the ball on the floor so he’s a big time match up problem.”
The Blazers got off to a high-paced start, securing a 14-6 lead through the first five minutes of the game. Answering his coach’s call to be more aggressive, Walker nailed a shot and followed it up with a steal on the other end leading to a made shot by junior forward Reggie Spencer. The plays sparked a 15-5 Northeastern run, tying the game up at 21-21.
“I thought we ran a little bit better particularly early in the game,” Coen said. “There’s a balance but I didn’t mind [the backcourt’s] aggression early, certainly when you’re trying to get going and get some confidence.”
Leading 31-30 at halftime, the Huskies came out of the break with a purpose, with a 15-7 run. However, UAB showed why they’re the best rebounding team in the country winning the battle of the boards 20-10 in the second half. Much of that was due to UAB captain Robert Williams playing well after senior Rod Rucker fouled out late in the second half. Williams recorded nine rebounds off the bench for the Blazers.
“He’s just a warrior out there,” Haase said. “All the guys respect him, they listen to him and a lot of times when we’re making a run in a game when it has to do with toughness and rebounding, he’s the one leading the charge and all the guys seem to feed off of that.”
Northeastern scored 23 points off UAB turnovers, keeping the Blazers at bay. The Huskies had just seven turnovers on the game, a season low. However, 11 second half points from both Frazier and senior center Fahro Alihodzic were more than enough to earn the win for the C-USA team.
“If things don’t go well you can do one of two things,” Coen said. “You can quit or try harder and these guys are committed to trying harder.”
Northeastern’s next game will be against Fairfield University on Dec. 15 at 1 p.m.
This article can also be found in the Huntington News and OneBidWonders.com.