In the massive mire of mid-major men’s basketball, matchups between middle-of-the-pack teams come to define seasons. On Thursday, two teams squarely in the middle of the CAA, Northeastern and Stony Brook, found themselves in a head-to-head matchup with each team sharing similar conference records thus far: The Huskies arrived on Long Island with a 3-3 CAA record, while the Seawolves had a game in hand with a 3-2 record in conference play.
But after losing a close battle to Stony Brook in late December, this time around the Huskies prevailed in a rematch of two evenly-matched opponents, beating out the Seawolves 79-66.
The opening minutes of the affair began with both sides feeling each other out. The defense was dominant for both sides early on, but junior guard Jahmyl Telfort was able to sink his first two attempts from beyond the arc to give the Huskies an early 6-0 lead. The Seawolves were quick to respond, as they immediately struck back with an 8-0 run. The Huskies struggled to score from the field, shooting only 37% through the first 10 minutes of play.
Coming out of the second media timeout, the Huskies found a spark in a pair of freshman guards. Chase Cormier came right off the bench to drain a three, then Masai Troutman followed up with a quick seven points to give the Huskies their first multi-possession lead at 25-18.
The third media timeout of the half saw Stony Brook reset and settle into the game. The Huskies gave them a helping hand in the process, committing four-straight turnovers and allowing the Seawolves to draw within one point. A defensive substitution put junior forward Alexander Nwagha on the floor, and thankfully saw him snap the four minute scoring drought that had seen the Huskies lead evaporate.
The major skid in offensive output clearly dampened the Huskies efforts, as they began to play more sloppy on offense. Turnovers were not the only issue, although the seven they allowed in the first half were certainly not helpful. Northeastern was simply not playing smart. A sort of desperation had seeped into their game, and they began forcing shots when a better option was available. Luckily, the Seawolves left the door open for the Huskies, as a pair of shooting fouls brought the trailing side within one point at the half. Head coach Bill Coen’s side entered the locker room down 32-31, with momentum on the Seawolves side.
The Huskies emerged from the locker room for the second half with a higher level of execution than they’d played with in the first 20 minutes . The Huskies battled hard in the opening minutes, with redshirt junior Joe Pridgen leading the way. His first three pointer of the night was followed by a fast-break layup, a blistering five points for the lead. A Telfort layup just before the first time out gave the Huskies a 40-37 lead. The break in play did not correspond with a break in the Huskies momentum, as a pair of free throws from Troutman saw them extend the lead to six points at 47-41, tied for the largest lead of the night.
Northeastern was in control, but it still felt like they needed an extra spark to pull away from the Seawolves. They were quick to send their message, as a massive 13-2 run across three minutes gave them a 61-46 lead at the eight minute media timeout, their largest lead of the game. Pridgen was the engine of the offense, scoring 13 points to lead the second half scoring. Telfort and Troutman were essential as well, each adding 10 points in the second half.
With their authoritative lead, the Huskies were in complete command of the game. The Seawolves did manage to tighten up their defense down the stretch, and even kept the Huskies from scoring a field goal for three minutes. However, Northeastern was much more disciplined with the basketball, minimizing turnovers and second-chance points for Stony Brook.
Troutman snapped the Huskies’ drought with another three pointer, and that was the final blow to the Seawolves morale. The final four minutes of the match were played out as a formality, with each team putting bench players in.
The Huskies’ road victory improves them to 4-3 in CAA play, with their second straight conference win.
Northeastern returns to the Historic Matthews Arena at noon Saturday, as they welcome to Boston the hottest team in the country, College of Charleston. Justin Diament and Matty Wasserman will be on the call live for WRBB Sports.