SYRACUSE, N.Y. — In the ninth-ever contest between the Northeastern men’s basketball team and Syracuse, it initially appeared as if the Huskies could down the Orange for the first time ever. In the end, however, Jim Boeheim’s squad outmatched the Huskies pups 76-48 who were undermanned coming into the matchup and were mightily outshot in the second half. Following the loss, the Huskies moved to 0-4 on the season, the worst start since head coach Bill Coen’s first year in charge in 2006-07.
The dogs entered the game without their starting center Chris Doherty who suffered an injury in their last game against Harvard. Northeastern, already desperately outsized by Syracuse’s forwards even with Doherty playing, was given very few options in terms of how to attack the legendary Boeheim zone defense.
The size disparity in the paint combined with the zone look from the defense forced Northeastern to look to the three-ball early. Triples have always been a staple of the Coen offense, but the preference for the three in the Huskies’ shot selection in the opening 10 minutes was on another level entirely.
Eight of the first 10 Northeastern shots came from beyond the arc, and they were falling as well. Five minutes into the game, with the help of the three ball, the Huskies erased a 9-0 Orange lead and brought it to just a three-point deficit. Early on the junior forward Coleman Stucke led the way from beyond the arc, burying the first two shots he took from deep.
From there the Huskies found their formula for success on offense: swing the ball around on the perimeter and stretch the zone until someone got a clean look from behind the three-point line.
The only issue was, the Huskies were playing Boeheim’s Syracuse team, and he didn’t win over 1,000 games by being a slouch of a coach. Following a timeout in the middle of the first half, Northeastern found fewer and fewer shooters open from deep and Syracuse swung back.
The acrobatic drives by freshman wonder Judah Mintz and the knockdown shooting from senior guard Joseph Girard III continued to mystify the Huskies who eventually had no answer.
It wasn’t just the Syracuse backcourt that gave Northeastern trouble; the towering senior center Jesse Edwards was allowed to work against his opposition’s undermanned frontcourt. The center finished the first half with 13 points, four rebounds, and a perfect mark shooting from the field.
Edwards’ 13 combined from 11 a piece from Mintz and Girard III gave the Orange a 39-25 lead going into halftime.
The lead was bolstered by putrid two-point shooting from the Huskies who shot just 2-13 on attempts inside the arc in the first half. At the half, the leaders for Northeastern were Stucke and freshman point guard Chase Cormier who each had two triples and nothing else for the dogs.
In the second half, Coen tried to devise an offensive attack focused on high post-initiation but the Huskies struggled to find open space via cuts and the offense stagnated.
The suffocating zone combined with poor ball management by Northeastern forwards once they received the ball down low allowed the Syracuse lead to grow even larger as the second half progressed. Mintz continued to attack the rim and abuse Husky forwards tasked with defending his layup or his pass who were often caught in between.
As the half progressed the Orange big three continued to lay it on the Huskies and Girard III, Mintz, and Edwards combined for 58 points.
Poor overall shooting plagued the second-half Huskies, and the team finished with just 32/25/15 splits in the contest. Their leading scorer was freshman Jared Turner who hit a free throw during Northeastern’s final possession to finish with seven points.
Looking ahead, the Huskies will most likely still be without Doherty as they hop across the pond for the Inaugural London Basketball Classic over Thanksgiving break. They will take on Manhattan College in their opener on Thanksgiving Day and either Princeton or Army in their second game. WRBB Sports will have written coverage of Northeastern’s games on our website.