By: Matthew MacCormack
It certainly wasn’t pretty, but the Huskies did just enough Thursday night to escape Towson with a 47-44 victory and snap a six-game losing streak.
Northeastern (13-13, 5-8 CAA) led by as many as 11 points with 11:40 remaining, but once again stumbled down the stretch and allowed the Tigers to claw their way back in the game, thanks in part to the 20 offensive rebounds corralled by Towson’s bigs.
A three pointer from sophomore guard Mike Morsell put Towson (17-9, 8-5 CAA) within a point, 45-44, just under the three-minute mark. But the Tigers missed their final four shots and turned the ball over twice down the stretch, and two late free throws from Devon Begley sealed the deal.
“Obviously it’s a relief for all our guys to get the win and it gives an opportunity for all our guys to believe again,” said Northeastern coach Bill Coen, who had watched his side drop seven of eight after a 3-0 start to conference play. “Hopefully we can build on this and build some momentum heading into [the CAA tournament in] Baltimore.”
David Walker (18 points, five rebounds) was the only Husky in double figures, and it was the senior guard’s three point shooting (four of 9 from deep) that ultimately gave NU the edge. After a Morsell free throw tied the game at 25 with 17:56 to play, the Huskies pieced together a 15-4 run. Walker canned three triples in that stretch, helping NU to a 40-29 lead with under 12 minutes to play.
True to their season form, the Huskies proceeded to hit just two of their final 12 shots.
Junior forward John Davis kept the Tigers in the game, scoring nine of his 18 points in the second half. Towson entered the game averaging the 13th most offensive rebounds per contest in the nation (14.0), and the Tigers continuously kept possessions alive with second-chance boards.
Coen used a 2-3 zone for the entire game, which hurt his team’s rebounding ability but also stymied the Towson offense. The Tigers shot 31% from the field and just 9% from three, and leading scorer William Adala Moto (14.6 ppg) scored just four points on two of 9 shooting.
The Huskies also limited Towson to an eight of 15 clip from the charity stripe. The Tigers had taken the third most free throws in the nation (27.5 per game) prior to tipoff.
“They’re one of the best teams in the country at getting fouled, so we deployed the 2-3 zone to start to try and stay out of foul trouble. It did limit their shooting percentage but they were able to get a ton of offensive rebounds,” Coen said. “I think we really did a nice job. We just have to clean up on the rebounding aspect of it.”
Northeastern jumped out to a quick 10-5 lead thanks to six early points from Jeremy Miller. The freshman center finishes with eight points and four rebounds, and was limited to 28 minutes due to foul trouble.
Neither side could get their offense going in the first frame, as Northeastern went into the locker room with a 23-22 lead after a Walker three rimmed out at the buzzer.
Davis made it 45-41 after drawing Miller’s fourth foul and converting a couple of free throws with 4:11 to play.
Morsell’s three made it a one-point game, and three consecutive NU misses gave Towson a chance to take the lead. But Adala Moto had a turnover, and then on the next possession missed a three and another jumper after an offensive board.
Begley was fouled on the ensuing inbounds, and hit two from the stripe to push the lead to 47-44.
Morsell missed a three with 5 seconds to go, but another Towson offensive bound kept things alive. The sophomore then missed a contested jumper at the buzzer.
Northeastern freshman point guard Brandon Kamga did not travel with the team. Coen said Kamga has a chance to play in Saturday afternoon’s bout with Drexel (3-21, 1-12 CAA) at Matthews Arena.