By Jordan Walsh
WILMINGTON, NC – Punxsutawney Phil won’t emerge from his burrow until Wednesday, but it certainly felt like Groundhog Day for the Northeastern Huskies (6-14) Thursday night, as they lost to the UNCW Seahawks (13-5) for the second time in four days.
Just as in Monday’s game, miscues on the offensive end in the face of UNCW’s aggressive defense doomed the Huskies. Northeastern turned the ball over 20 times, compared to the Seahawks’ eight giveaways. UNCW led the Huskies in points off turnovers 25-6 on Thursday, an even more pronounced margin than the Seahawks’ 25-8 advantage Monday night.
“You can’t do that!” was a frequent chant from the boisterous student section at Trask Coliseum throughout the night, with inopportune offensive fouls and mishandled passes ending the Huskies’ possessions prematurely. The home crowd of 4,146 was by far the largest Northeastern had played in front of this season.
The raucous atmosphere did the Huskies no favors at the free-throw line, as Northeastern continued to leave points at the stripe, going just 12-for-21. One improvement for the Huskies was their effort on the boards, outrebounding UNCW 35-17, compared to their more modest 30-28 advantage on the glass Monday night.
Redshirt junior forward Chris Doherty, coming off a career-high 19-point performance, opened the scoring for Northeastern in the rematch. Muscling his way in for a layup just 15 seconds into the game, he seemed ready to replicate his career night, but that shot turned out to be one of just two field goals from Doherty in the entire contest. As in the game three days earlier, he got into foul trouble, and ended up playing only 11 minutes in the second half Thursday night.
However, the Huskies played somewhat better outside of Doherty than on Monday, attacking the rim and getting scores in the paint or trips to the line. Sophomore guard Jahmyl Telfort and graduate student guard Nikola Djogo combined for 37 points, with just nine of those coming from three.
The other Husky to score in double figures was sophomore forward Coleman Stucke: his third time doing so in the last four games. He also had some success on the defensive end, as UNCW graduate student guard Jaylen Fornes became more contained when Stucke replaced sophomore guard Glen McClintock as Fornes’ defender.
However, the Huskies had no answers for UNCW guards Jaylen Sims, a senior, and Shykeim Phillips, a junior. After trailing by as many as 13 points in the second half, Northeastern had rallied and cut the lead to three, but Sims nailed a jumper from the right elbow and the Seahawks held a multi-possession lead for the rest of the contest.
The Huskies could not take advantage of an off-night from UNCW graduate student guard Mike Okauru, who had just six points and did not attempt a single free throw, after making eight foul shots Monday night.
The 67-62 loss stretches Northeastern’s winless stretch to 10 games, which is the fourth-longest active losing streak in the country. On the other hand, UNCW’s winning streak of 10 games is the third-longest in the nation.
The Huskies will have another chance to snap this dreadful run when they visit the College of Charleston Jan. 29 in the afternoon. WRBB’s Rae Deer will have written coverage on our website.