by Justin Littman
BOSTON, Ma. — With the hottest team in the nation coming to Matthews Arena, Northeastern (13-9, 7-3 CAA) was able to take care of business, snapping Hofstra’s (19-4, 9-1 CAA) 16 game winning streak by a final of 75-61. The Huskies, shorthanded without Shawn Occeus, were able to contain the Pride’s offense and get revenge on a loss from last month. Back in January, Justin Wright-Foreman knocked down a game-winning three just in front of half court as the buzzer sounded.
This game was back and forth early, with 10 lead changes in the first twelve minutes. A tightly officiated half resulted in both leading scorers Vasa Pusica (16.0 ppg) and Wright-Foreman (26.0 ppg) picking up two fouls early on. Hofstra coach Joe Mihalich opted to keep Wright-Foreman on the bench with the foul trouble, while Pusica continued to see time on the court. Pusica’s role was pivotal, and he helped the Huskies build an eight point lead going into the half. Pusica scored 16 of his 24 points in the first half.
“He’s an experienced player…if you let a player like that sit and marinate on the bench sometimes they don’t get it going again so you want to make sure they stay in touch with the game”, remarked head coach Bill Coen after the game.
The Pride shot just 32% from the field in the first half, and struggled to get anything going in the second. Hofstra did not make a three for the first 18 minutes of the second half, and frustration mounted as Northeastern extended the lead to double digits. Technical fouls by guard Eli Pemberton and Mihalich helped Northeastern get additional points at the free throw line, and the Huskies lead swelled to as much as 21 points.
Northeastern did an admirable job defensively, and much of the effort was led by Donnell Gresham. Gresham drew the primary matchup with Wright-Foreman, and contained him throughout the night. Northeastern limited second chance points and transition opportunities, and Hofstra finished with zero fast break points.
Gresham also had a big game on the offensive end, scoring 18 points and knocking down 4 three pointers. Bolden Brace scored 11 points and added 10 rebounds, and Jordan Roland, who was held scoreless through the first 33 minutes, finished with 10 points.
For Hofstra, Wright-Foreman was unable to find a rhythm, finishing the game with 15 points (5-14 FG). Second leading scorer Eli Pemberton also struggled, and finished the game with just 9 points. Senior guard Desure Buie did his best to keep Hofstra in the game, but his 22 points were not enough with the struggles of his teammates.
Northeastern has now won 6 of their last 7, and they gain a game on Hofstra in the CAA standings. The Huskies trail the Pride in the CAA standings by two games. Next week, Northeastern will play two more at Matthews Arena, hosting William & Mary on Thursday and Elon on Saturday.