Just give the ball to Vasa! #GoNU pic.twitter.com/1rANQR4W2h
— Northeastern Men’s Basketball (@GoNUmbasketball) February 17, 2018
by Matthew MacCormack
BOSTON — Who else but Vasa Pusica?
In a tightly-contested, back-and-forth affair, Northeastern’s redshirt junior point guard hit a contested layup as the clock expired to lift the Huskies over William & Mary, 69-67, on Saturday afternoon at Matthews Arena.
Pusica battled through foul trouble to finish with a team-high 19 points on 7-10 shooting, and also chipped in five rebounds and four assists. Max Boursiquot tied a season-high with 13 points, and was the only other Husky in double figures. With the win, the Huskies (19-9, 12-4 CAA) clinched a top-three seed in the Colonial Athletic Association tournament.
Pusica caught an inbounds pass with 5.3 seconds remaining with the game knotted at 67. He exploded towards the basket, squeezing through three Tribe defenders to kiss a layup off the glass as the final buzzer sounded.
“I wanted to get to the rim,” Pusica said.
“I had a good defender on me [Justin Pierce] but I went by him. Coach wrote a great play and the lane was wide open. I saw the help side was a little late, but that’s what we wanted.”
Redshirt-sophomore guard Matt Millon had a game-high 21 points for the Tribe. Millon missed an open three on the Tribe’s final possession before Pusica’s late heroics. The Huskies swept William & Mary (16-11, 9-7 CAA) in the season series.
“Just another boring CAA finish,” Northeastern head coach Bill Coen joked after the game.
Coen lauded Pusica for his performance, and also shouted out Boursiquot and Anthony Green (8 pts, 3-3 FGs) for helping keep the offense going on a night when the Huskies struggled with turnovers.
Coen said Pusica’s execution on the final play was important.
“It’s a designed play. We put two guys at the free throw line,” Coen added.
“What we’re trying to do is cause a little bit of diversion with the guys along the baseline and get [Pusica] some space to operate. He made a great read, great play, and that’s what really good players do. He’s not afraid of the moment at all.”
When asked about the Huskies’ ability to close it out in tight games, Pusica wasn’t bashful.
“I think that says that we are a championship team,” said the star point guard.
“We’ve won way too many close games like this. I think that’s a good characteristic of a championship team.”
The Huskies’ next game comes on Thursday night against Towson at Matthews Arena.