By Zolan Kanno-Youngs
The Northeastern front court continued to impress spectators in San Juan on Friday in the Huskies 86-77 loss to the University of North Carolina at Charlotte in the semifinal round of the Puerto Rico Tip-off.
Junior Reggie Spencer record 11 points and 12 rebounds and redshirt junior Scott Eatherton notched his second straight double double with a game-leading 22 points and 11 rebounds.
“We try to get it down low a lot to me and Reggie and when we get the ball down there were supposed to score and rebounding is just a given,” Eatherton said. That’s what were down there for and I just try to get as many rebounds as I can.”
However, the dominating play could not overcome a team performance from the charity stripe which left something to be desired. The Huskies shot just 18-30 from the line.
“The story of the second half is we just left too many points on the free-throw line,” coach Bill Coen said. “We had a number of empty trips and allowed them to get separation again and at that point, I think we were just a little too tired to make another run.”
The Huskies did, however, come out of the half on fire for their second straight game of a back-to-back. With Charlotte leading 43-34, Over the first eight minutes of the second half, Northeastern went on a 17-8 run, 12 of those points coming from the combined scoring of junior guard Demetrius Pollard and freshman guard T.J. Williams.
After fouling out against Georgetown, Pollard played well with 14 points on five of 13 shooting and Williams had 12 points and two assists in his first career start. Junior forward Quincy Ford was still out of action due to a back injury.
“I know [Quincy’s] really disappointed that he can’t help the team right now but injuries are part of the game,” Coen said. “While I feel badly for Quincy it’s also an opportunity for guys on our bench and just have to step up to the challenge. So far I think our guys have risen to the occasion.”
The 49ers rose to the occasion with eight minutes left in the game and the score tied 58-58. Charlotte went on a 13-4 run over 5 minutes to take a 71-62 lead. Coach Alan Major’s team didn’t give the Huskies a chance for a late run as they connected on 15-18 of their free throws in the final two minutes of the game.
Sophomore guard Shawn Lester led the way in scoring for Charlotte with 20 points. Senior guard Ben Cherry also shot the lights-out with 18 points, including six of seven shooting from behind the arc.
The Huskies next game will be at Virginia Commonwealth University on Nov. 29 at 7 p.m
Zolan Kanno-Youngs is the Huntington News beat writer and a WRBB commentator for Northeastern basketball. Follow him @KannoYoungs.