TOWSON, MD — The last time the Northeastern men’s basketball team took the floor against the Towson Tigers, it was ugly.
It was early March of last year, and the Tigers mauled the Huskies, 82-54, in the first round of the 2017 CAA Tournament.
But on Saturday afternoon in SECU Arena, it was the Huskies who did the mauling, leading for almost the entire game in a 77-62 statement victory. Redshirt junior guard Vasa Pusica (23 points, 7-10 FG) scored 20-plus for the third straight contest and the Husky defense limited Towson to 39% shooting as Northeastern (17-9, 10-4) held firm to second-place in the CAA.
“I really thought the story of the game was our defense,” Head Coach Bill Coen said.
“We defended really well. We kept them at bay off the backboards and kept them out of transition. Those were our pregame goals”.
NU shot 57% in the game and 72% in the second half against Towson (17-10, 7-7 CAA), who entered the game with the CAA’s top scoring defense. Senior guard Devon Begley chipped in 14 points and eight rebounds, and sophomore forward Bo Brace (10 points) made several big plays to help the Huskies to victory.
The Huskies won the rebounding battle, 32-31. Towson entered the game with the CAA’s top rebounding margin.
Towson sophomore guard Zane Martin fouled out after scoring a team-high 21 points. Senior guard Mike Morsell (17 points) was the only other Tiger in double figures.
The Towson offense sputtered down the stretch with Martin in foul trouble. The Huskies mounted a 9-2 run midway through the second half when Martin went to the bench with his fourth foul.
“It’s huge because he’s such a potent scorer and he’s so aggressive,” Coen said of Martin’s foul situation.
“He’s able to draw fouls and get buckets. He was really able to keep them in the game single-handedly so it was a bit of good fortune.”
Towson pulled the game within six points, 59-53, on a three from Mike Morsell with 7:47 to go into the game. The Huskies responded with a 10-0 run, sparked by a three and transition dunk from Brace.
“I thought [Brace] gave us a nice lift at that portion of the game, which he’s done all year long,” Coen said.
The Huskies won big despite racking up 17 turnovers. Coen called the turnover issue the team’s “one Achille’s heel.”
Next up for NU is a battle with Drexel at 7 p.m. on Thursday night in Matthews Arena.