by Matthew MacCormack
Bill Coen can add fortuneteller to his already-loaded résumé.
“Heading into tournament time, your best players have to play well,” the Northeastern head coach said in Tuesday’s Colonial Athletic Association teleconference. “And I think the secret to it is you have to get production and performance from an unsung hero…Whoever is going to win it is going to have a storyline like that.”
Coen’s predictions held true, as seniors and All-CAA selections David Walker (First Team) and Quincy Ford (Second Team) combined for 30 second-half points to will the six-seeded Huskies to a 71-60 victory over No. 3 Towson in the CAA quarterfinals Saturday night.
Junior forward Jimmy Marshall, who averaged less than three points per game in the regular season, and junior guard T.J Williams (9 pts, 5 assts), each scored seven first-half points off the bench to keep the Huskies in it early.
“I thought Jimmy did a great job coming off the bench in a tight situation… he stepped in and gave us a big boost,” Coen said in the post-game presser. “T.J played really, really well and got into the lane, took care of the basketball for us and was able to find people for easy baskets. Both of those guys contributed greatly to tonight’s effort.”
For the second straight season, the Huskies will battle the UNCW Seahawks in the semi-finals on Sunday at 3:30. WRBB’s pre-game coverage will tip-off at 3pm on 104.9 FM.
Walker and Ford got off to cold starts, as the pair combined for just eight points on 3-11 shooting in the first twenty minutes. But the senior captains turned the tide in the second frame.
Walker (18 pts, 6 assts) hit a three with 17:04 to play that put Northeastern in the driver’s seat for good, and Ford (20 pts, 7 rebs) scored 11 straight points over a seven-minute stretch that gave the Huskies a nine-point lead with 2:10 remaining.
“Their presence on the court makes it so much easier for the other players to handle pressure situations and really perform at a high level,” Coen said. “I think we relied on or seniors tonight and both of these guys did a tremendous job.”
Two late threes from Towson sophomore guard Mike Morsell cut the lead to 64-58 under the two-minute mark, but the score would get no closer.
Junior forward William Adala Moto led the Tigers with 18 points and 12 rebounds. Morsell finished with 16 points and five boards.
The Huskies jumped out to a quick 6-0 lead, thanks to threes from senior guard Caleb Donnelly and freshman center Jeremy Miller.
NU’s three-point shooting is what ultimately tilted the game. The Huskies shot 8 of 17 (47%) from beyond the arc.
Morsell picked up two steals to key a 9-0 run for the Tigers, bringing the tally to 9-6 with 13:24 remaining in the first half.
The rest of the opening frame featured eight lead changes and three ties. Marshall and Williams each contributed a highlight reel dunk, and the off-the-bench scoring from the juniors allowed Northeastern to keep it close.
Towson went into the half with up 32-29, which tied their largest advantage.
NU battled valiantly on the boards against the Tigers, who were among the top rebounding teams in the country. Towson held a 18-13 rebounding edge in the opening frame, but each team corralled 15 boards in the second half.
Walker’s three early in the second half gave NU a 37-36 lead, and the senior connected from long distance again at the 12:12 mark to push the lead to 50-42.
A driving layup from Ford gave Northeastern’s its largest advantage of the evening at 58-46. After Morsell’s three cut the lead to six, Walker hit six straight free throws to ice the game.
“It’s such a great feeling that we’re clicking and things are starting to get a lot better at the best time of the season,” Ford said.
Miller missed the game’s final few minutes with a left knee injury. Coen said he’ll be ready to play against UNCW.