By Rae Deer
CHARLESTON, SC — Will the Northeastern men’s basketball team win a conference game this season? One would like the answer to be yes, but unfortunately we haven’t gotten there quite yet. Saturday afternoon, the Huskies (6-14) stayed on the road to face College of Charleston and fell to the Cougars at TD Arena, 63-81. They continue to sit at the bottom of the conference with an 0-10 record and hold an eleven game losing streak.
However, the final score doesn’t accurately reflect the tough, close fought match they had. Both shot nearly identical from the field (NU at 46% and CofC at 49%) and the arc (NU at 38% and CofC at 40%), with the Cougars only slightly putting up better marks. Rebounds weren’t dominated either, with College of Charleston grabbing only four more than Northeastern. But the inability to garner any momentum to overtake Charleston in the second half and a 17-2 run in the last 10 minutes, spearheaded by Cougar guard John Meeks (who had 22 points on the night), struck the Huskies down and there was no coming back.
At the start of the game, Charleston struck first, but Northeastern wasn’t too far behind. Both teams traded shots almost evenly, and whenever the Cougars slightly pulled ahead, the Huskies pulled them back. Second-chance points were prominent in this period, and there were hard-fought battles down low for offensive rebounds.
Despite this, the score stayed low as neither team could build a steady rhythm. Whatever momentum either team gained was killed by a bad foul or an extremely messy turnover. There were a whopping 16 turnovers in the first half, nine of them made by NU, and 20 fouls, 11 committed by Charleston. The unforced turnovers made it difficult for both squads to pull a true lead over the other. The teams were tied seven times and the lead changed 10 times in the 20 minutes of the half.
In the end, Cougars pulled ahead to 41 after Reyne Smith (12 points) gained three points from a shooting foul on Husky guard Shaq Walters (13 points) and then another three made off of a turnover by Jahmyl Telfort, who had an unusually bad showing with only four points on the night.
The second half wasn’t any better for the Huskies. Turnover troubles continued, and Northeastern missed back-to-back shots for several minutes at a time. At one point, their shots stopped falling together. They had nine turnovers and failed to land 18 of 34 shots taken in the second half. All this time, the Cougars were slowly pulling ahead with the help of Meeks, guard off the bench Brenden Tucker (14 points), and forward Dimitrius Underwood (10 points).
At first the defense shut down slightly, giving the Cougars a 7-0 run merely minutes into the second half. Yet, the Huskies fought back often and were able to pull the game to as close as a margin of five while never keeping Charleston’s lead above seven, but towards the end it had reached a point where the close man-to-man defense the Cougars had been playing all game had permanently stopped the Huskies.
When their offense slowed just as much as their defense did, Charleston immediately took advantage, going on a 19 point sprint to snatch the game away with five minutes left in the contest. The five points Northeastern earned in that stretch couldn’t quite pull them any closer.
There are still more games to be played, as JMU makes the trip to Matthews Arena to face the Huskies Feb. 3. Whether or not Northeastern will be able to finally obtain their first conference win is to be determined. Peyton Doyle and Justin Diament will be on that call for WRBB: tip-off is at 7 p.m.