Northeastern surged back from large deficits multiple times, but in the end could not find the consistency they needed. The Huskies wound up on the wrong end of a 69-66 defeat against William & Mary on Thursday night.
The two squads had similar records, with William & Mary coming in at 5-9 and Northeastern at 5-8, though the Huskies had the better record in CAA play, 1-1 compared to 0-1. With teams that seemed fairly evenly matched, the game promised to be close, and it was, with five lead changes throughout, however in the end a clear and deserving winner emerged.
With the Huskies’ leading scorer, junior guard Jahmyl Telfort, converting just two of his seven shots on the night, other players were forced to step up. Junior forward Coleman Stucke provided 18 points and nine rebounds, leading the game in both. The Huskies’ sixth man, UNCW transfer and redshirt junior guard Joe Pridgen, also proved his worth, with 14 points and five rebounds on 60% shooting.
On the Tribe’s end, their scoring was more evenly distributed, with graduate guard Anders Nelson leading the way with 16, and junior forwards Noah Collier and Ben Wight contributing 12 apiece.
The Huskies got off to a hot start, jumping out to a 12-7 lead after the first five minutes. Eight of those points came from Stucke, who was firing at will and hit two threes and a jumper. Their play then took a turn for the worse, with three turnovers in as many minutes paving the way for the Tribe to come back and tie the game at 16.
The Huskies then ramped up their defensive intensity, with Pridgen grabbing a steal and a block, and Stucke providing another steal. But the Tribe refused to go away as sophomore guard Gabe Dorsey hit three threes to keep his squad within one point.
That differential held and the score was 31-30 Northeastern going into the final minute of the half, but Tribe graduate guard Chris Mullins hit both free throws after he was fouled by Husky freshman center Collin Metcalf. On the half’s final possession, Collier hit a clutch contested shot in the paint with two seconds left and the Tribe headed into halftime leading, 34-31.
The Tribe came out energized in the second half, enjoying a jumper from Mullins and two consecutive second chance buckets from Collier to extend their lead to 40-31, the largest differential of the game to that point.
The Huskies battled back though, with Pridgen hitting a three and freshman guard Rashad King draining two jumpers in a row to reduce the Tribe’s lead to two. The Huskies’ dominant big man, redshirt senior forward Chris Doherty, was then subbed out for the only time of the game, and the Huskies sorely missed his presence in the paint as the Tribe ran out to another eight-point lead in just a few minutes.
Mullins took over for the Tribe down the stretch, with four points, a heroic steal, and two massive assists in the last 10 minutes as they sought to put the game out of reach. After one last push from the Huskies to reduce the Tribe lead to one with five minutes remaining, they scored six unanswered points to make the score 66-59 with just 1:24 to play.
The Huskies fought valiantly, with Stucke providing five points in the final two minutes and Pridgen hitting a clutch layup after two Husky offensive rebounds, but there just wasn’t enough time left to change the outcome, and Nelson hit three of his four free throws in the last 30 seconds to ensure the lead stayed intact.
The Huskies seemed to have the physical advantage on paper, with the imposing, 6’7” figures of Doherty, Telfort, and Stucke often all in the game at once, but they failed to dominate the boards. The Tribe grabbed 12 second-chance points, with Collier and freshman guard/forward Jack Karasinski coming up with key offensive rebounds to keep possessions alive.
Northeastern head coach Bill Coen cut a frustrated figure after the game as his team moved to 1-2 in CAA play and 5-9 overall. After a promising start to the season that included a 73-70 win over Davidson, he’ll be looking to right the ship with important conference games on the horizon.
The Huskies will look to recover in time for their clash at Hampton on Saturday at 4 p.m. Reece Calvin will have a written recap for WRBB on the website.