by Matthew MacCormack
Five days after scoring 90 points in a blowout win over William & Mary, the Northeastern men’s basketball team proved they could win in a different way — with their defense. And they did it by neutralizing the very team that stole a NCAA tournament bid out of their hands last March.
The Huskies (10-8, 4-2 CAA) put the clamps on defending CAA champion Charleston on Thursday night, holding the Cougars (14-5, 3-3 CAA) under 43% from the floor in a 69-60 win at Matthews Arena. NU forced 17 turnovers on a Cougars team that had averaged fewer than 11 per game. Charleston’s stars senior forward Jarrell Brantley (13 points, 6 turnovers) and Grant Riller 17 points, 4 turnovers) were held well below their season scoring averages.
Northeastern junior forward Bo Brace locked up Brantley, while CAA Defensive Player of the Year Shawn Occeus held Riller in check.
“I thought tonight was a return of our defense from last year,” said Northeastern head coach Bill Coen.
“I thought their (Occeus and Brace) individual efforts allowed us to control this game.”
With the win, the Huskies take sole possession of third place in the CAA.
Redshirt senior point guard Vasa Pusica led the way with 21 points (6-8 FG), who connected on all eight of his free throw attempts. Brace racked up a 14-point, 10-rebound double-double, and Occeus chipped in 12 points.
Next up, the Huskies battle UNCW at home on Saturday at noon. Michael Petillo and Milton Posner will have the call for WRBB.