By: Matthew MacCormack
The Northeastern Huskies were forced to replace 70% of their scoring from a season ago. New faces speckled the roster in Tuesday’s season-opening bout with Boston University at Matthews Arena, and the question loomed: where are the points going to come from?
After one game, it looks like head coach Bill Coen’s senior captains are ready to answer the bell.
T.J. Williams had 30 points and eight assists, and graduate transfer Alex Murphy poured in 20 in his Northeastern debut as the Huskies (1-0) edged BU, 87-77 on Friday night. The Huskies shot a blistering 43% from three in the first half to gain a 16-point edge at the break, and the lead never got smaller than five. Eric Fanning posted 29 points and seven boards for the visiting Terriers (0-1).
“We have a steadying force in our seniors,” said Huskies’ coach Bill Coen in the post-game presser.
“They really helped bridge that gap from the losses from last year.”
In a surprise move, Coen gave freshman Shawn Occeus the starting nod. Occeus responded by scoring five consecutive points after Murphy knocked down two threes in the first two minutes of gameplay. Occeus and fellow freshman Bolden Brace and Max Boursiquot combined for 16 points.
BU’s Justin Alston threw down a dunk with 11:00 to play in the first half to cut the Northeastern lead to 18-15. From there, the Huskies crafted a 23-8 run, with five different players contributing points in the stretch. NU led 41-25 at the break.
The Terriers cut the lead to just five with 11 to play in the second half, but Northeastern responded thanks to some stellar driving by Williams. The senior point guard had 19 points in the second half, and went 11-15 from the free throw line after not stepping to the charity stripe in the first half.
BU coach Joe Jones was impressed with Williams’s effort.
“From a guy averaging six points per game to doing what he’s doing now,” Jones said.
“He’s gotta be one of the most improved players in the frickin’ country.”
After an up-and-down campaign a season ago, Williams flashed the potential that could make him a dangerous weapon down the stretch.”
“Just staying dialed in, being dialed in on and off the court, having my team behind me,” Williams said.
“I’m just glad we got the win.”
Next up for the Huskies is game at UConn, which lost to Wagner on Friday night. Northeastern will meet BU next Friday at Agganis Arena as part of the Steve Wright classic.