By: Josh Brown
After impressive wins over Boston University and Florida State to open up the season, the Northeastern Men’s Basketball Team (4-0) took home some hardware over the weekend, defeating Navy and Manhattan on back to back days to win the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame Tipoff at Mohegan Sun Arena.
The 4-0 start is the first time the Huskies have met that mark since the 2005-2006 season.
“It’s something that will help us build our confidence going forward,” said Northeastern Head Coach Bill Coen after Sunday’s victory.
In the first round on Saturday, the Huskies were matched up with a struggling Navy team who had lost their first three games heading into the contest.
Senior Scott Eatherton led the way for Northeastern in the first half, scoring 13 points and grabbing 4 rebounds en route to a 30-23 lead after the opening 20.
“Scott came through in a big way tonight,” said Coen. “I thought his presence was felt both on the boards and around the basket. He did a nice job of getting himself involved and also getting his teammates involved.”
In the second half the flood gates opened up for the Huskies, outscoring Navy 38-21 in the frame to give the team a 68-44 win.
Quincy Ford led the way for Northeastern in the second half scoring all 8 of his points in the frame, including two three pointers. T.J. Williams also played well for the Huskies registering 11 points of his own in 38 minutes. Eatherton ended up with a game high 19 points and 8 rebounds.
Northeastern walk-on Caleb Donnelly scored his first collegiate basket late in the game, sinking a three pointer to give the Huskies a 24 point lead.
“He’s [Donnelly] been working really hard,” said Eatherton. “He’s really helped us in practice. He’s been challenging T.J., all the guards. It was great to see all the hard work pay off.”
The Huskies on a quick turnaround were matched up with the Manhattan Jaspers Sunday night, who beat Binghamton 78-63 to advance to the championship game. The Jaspers lost in the first round of the NCAA Tournament last season to Louisville.
Northeastern wasted no time getting to work, outscoring the Jaspers 44-24 in the first half, tying their highest scoring half of the season from the second half of the BU game at the Garden.
Scott Eatherton and Zach Stahl were unstoppable for the Huskies, scoring 14 points and grabbing three rebounds a piece in the half.
“I thought the first half was probably the best half of basketball we’ve played all season,” Coen said. “We really shared the basketball. We took care of the ball outside of the first couple minutes. [We] handled their pressure the way we wanted to, and got real quality shots.
Northeastern, who has several coaches watching Manhattan’s first game on Saturday, had an answer for everything the Jasper’s were trying to run.
“I’ve got to give credit to my staff,” Coen said. “They work really really hard at every phase of the game, particularly game preparation. As a coach you want to give your team an edge, and I thought they did that with the scout today.”
Manhattan tried to claw their way back in the second half, behind a pesky defense which led Northeastern to commit 14 turnovers (23 in the game) but it was not enough as the Huskies were able to hang on for the 65-51 win.
Eatherton finished the game with 22 points and 8 rebounds, followed by Stahl who had 16 points and 8 rebounds of his own. Quincy Ford pitched in with 9 points (all on three point shots) and 6 rebounds to help Northeastern secure the win.
“Overall I thought everybody who stepped on the court did a really fine job for us,” Coen said.
The Huskies take the court again Wednesday when they travel to to the 4-1 University of Massachusetts Minutemen. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m.