By: Matt MacCormack
Nashville, TN — Northeastern refused to go quietly in Friday afternoon’s 71-67 loss to Utah State in a PK80 Challenge matchup at Municipal Auditorium.
The Huskies — who trailed by 8 points with 38 seconds remaining — brought the game to within one point on Vasa Pusica’s three-pointer with 9 seconds left. After a Utah State free throw, the Huskies again had a chance, down 69-67 with two seconds left. But Bolden Brace’s inbounds pass to Pusica landed out of bounds, and a pair of Aggie free throws iced the game in the final seconds.
Losers of three straight, the Huskies fell to 2-3. Pusica poured in a career-high 27 points on a very efficient nine of 12 from the floor. The redshirt junior also hit six of his eight three point attempts.
Sophomore Sam Merrill led the way for Utah State (3-3) with 19 points. Junior DeAngelo Isby chipped in 14 off the bench and senior Alex Dargenton added 10 points.
Turnovers were clearly the problem all night long for the Huskies. The Aggies scored 24 points off of 20 Northeastern turnovers. NU also struggled with foul trouble, as the Aggies entered the double bonus with 7:06 remaining in the game.
A back and forth game featured six ties and 15 lead changes. Northeastern took a lead into halftime on a last second three from Pusica, who caught a baseball-style pass from Brace and hit a fadeway jumper as time expired.
The Aggies took control of the game at the midway point of the second half. A 9-0 Utah State run — punctuated by a three-point play from Dargenton — turned a 50-47 deficit into a 56-50 Aggie lead.
Up next for Northeastern is another PK80 game against Furman, who dispatched UNH, 78-64, in the early game on Friday. Matt MacCormack and Josh Brown will be on the call.