By Milton Posner
The Northeastern Men’s Basketball team hung on to beat Vermont, 71-67, in a riveting game that went down to the wire after staying close throughout the second half.
The Huskies have now won four straight contests, improving to 6-4 on the season and 5-0 at Matthews Arena.
Northeastern got 17 points from Donnell Gresham, 12 points from Vasa Pusica, and 16 points from Shawn Occeus, who nailed a clutch three-pointer with 1:45 to go that cemented the lead.
The Huskies built a double-digit lead in the first half on the back of stellar on-ball and team defense, amassing 11 steals on the night, including three from Gresham and three from Occeus.
“That’s my role on the team,” Occeus remarked after the game. “Bring energy on the defensive end every night. Go out there and give it my all. My teammates push me in practice and help me get better on the defensive end.”
The Huskies were able to overcome some first-half foul trouble, with Anthony Green, Vasa Pusica, and Bolden Brace all going to the bench prematurely with two fouls.
“We’ve got twelve players and I’m confident in each and every one of them,” head coach Bill Coen said. “I think it spoke to our depth at that point in time that we were able to lose Vasa and Anthony and Bo. We were playing a little shorthanded but everybody kinda stepped up and picked up the slack. It was a great team win.”
Vermont received a huge chunk of offense from sophomore forward Anthony Lamb, who logged 32 points and cashed in on all 15 of his free throw attempts.
“He had a hell of a game,” Occeus noted. “We just tried to make it tough on him every possession.”
The Huskies have a break for final exams, but will look to keep their momentum moving forward.
“Guys will take some time to get a little bit healthy, dig into their books on Sunday, attack their exams on Monday and Tuesday, and we’ll get back at it on Wednesday,” Coen commented. “We’ve got a big road trip coming up after exams. It will be another great challenge for us, another great opportunity to go out and compete against great programs.”
The Huskies will hit the road, playing December 18 (Kent State) and December 20 (St. Bonaventure), before starting conference play on December 30 against James Madison.