Jacob Oshinsky/WRBB Sports File

WASHINGTON D.C. – A season that began with such promise and intrigue once again ended in heartbreak in the second round of the CAA Tournament, as all Northeastern could do was look on with collective disappointment as Stony Brook Seawolves dribbled out the clock on the Huskies’ season with a 75-65 win on Saturday night.

The No. 10 seeded Huskies couldn’t have asked for a much better draw, after playing the Seawolves tough in their two prior meetings this season. Although Northeastern lost both of those games, it was only by a combined margin of 13 points despite missing star guard Luka Sakota for both contests and star forward Chris Doherty for one. They say it’s hard to beat a team three times in one season, and the Huskies had a golden opportunity to prove that adage correct on Saturday.

After both teams got off to somewhat of a slow start, Stony Brook crept into control. Mostly thanks to the play of senior guard Dean Noll, they led for all but 32 seconds of the first half; a Jared Turner three gave Northeastern a short-lived 27-25 lead with 2:45 to play in the frame, but the Huskies couldn’t extend the advantage and Noll orchestrated a prolonged 10-2 Seawolves run to take a 35-29 lead into halftime. 

Northeastern went to the locker room shooting better from three than they were from two, a remarkable feat for a team that relies so heavily on paint points. That should give you some indication of how strange their first half was; the Huskies made threes, but missed layups, floaters and mid-range jump shots. Northeastern ended the period shooting just 4-of-14 from two-point range, which translates to an ugly 28% – it felt like a minor miracle that the deficit was only six.

The margin might’ve been twenty without sophomore guard Rashad King, who scored six points and dished out five assists in the half. Of Northeastern’s 10 made field goals, King scored or assisted on seven, knocking down two threes and making several pretty passes leading directly to baskets. Fellow sophomore guard Jared Turner also provided a much-needed spark, making both of his three-point attempts and grabbing three rebounds to help keep his team afloat.

Outside of Noll’s 14 first-half points, senior All-CAA Second Teamer Tyler Stephenson-Moore added eight for a Seawolves offense which didn’t fare too much better than Northeastern’s in the frame. Senior guard Aaron Clarke chipped in with seven. Overall, though, it was a relatively quiet half for an offense that finished fourth in the CAA in points per game.

With their season on the line, the Huskies came out of halftime looking to attack the basket. Chris Doherty drove and got to the free throw line on Northeastern’s first two possessions of the half, and he made three-of-four to slice the lead to three. Maybe, it seemed, the Huskies were ready to put it all together and make a season-defining run.

But, as has been the case all season, it just didn’t shake out Northeastern’s way. They repeatedly got the lead within four points, but every time the Huskies looked threatening, Stony Brook would respond with points of their own. Stephenson-Moore in particular was instrumental; the guard hit several big shots, including back-to-back threes, to weather a Husky run and push the lead back to eight with 11:44 to play.

Eventually, Northeastern just ran out of gas. Another patented scoring drought came at the worst possible time, as they scored just three points over eight minutes of game time; by the time they snapped that cold spell, the lead had ballooned to 12 with just under five minutes to play. A Noll three on the ensuing possession gave the Seawolves a 15 point cushion, and they didn’t look back from there.

The Huskies fought until the end, pressing and fouling until the clock hit zero, but the result was well out of sight by that point. Stony Brook’s veterans sank their free throws and held on to the ball, closing the book on the Huskies’ season, 75-65.

Northeastern’s offensive woes continued into the second half; in fact, they were probably even worse. The Huskies shot a dismal 13-of-37 from the field, 1-of-9 from three, and 9-of-17 from the free throw line in the half, struggling to score when they needed it most.

It wasn’t necessarily the Seawolves defense forcing these misses, though – Northeastern missed a bevy of layups, jump shots, and free throws, and Stony Brook was able to capitalize. 

Sophomore forward Collin Metcalf was a bright spot for the Huskies, scoring 12 of his 14 points in the second half on a perfect 5-of-5 from the floor. Rashad King also continued to impress, adding six assists in the period to finish with a career-high 11. 

“We wanted to utilize Collin [Metcalf]…we knew we wanted to match him up with [the 7’0” Keenan Fitzmorris],” said Coen. “He answered the bell, and I thought he gave us a huge lift.”

Elsewhere, sophomore guard Masai Troutman ended up pacing Northeastern in points with 16, although he shot just 5-of-16 from the floor. Fellow sophomore Harold Woods struggled mightily, finishing scoreless on 0-of-6 shooting.

Chris Doherty had an uncharacteristically quiet night, scoring just seven points on 2-of-7. He was often made a focal point of Stony Brook’s defense, facing a multitude of defenders and several double-teams.

“I have a ton of respect for Doherty,” said Stony Brook head coach Geno Ford. “I think Chris Doherty not being all-league was shocking… I give our big guys credit, they made it hard on him, our guards did a really good job doubling him…”

After missing last weekend’s contest at Drexel through injury, graduate point guard Luka Sakota made a return to the lineup on Saturday, but the veteran struggled to an unpleasant end to his excellent college career. Sakota managed just one point on 0-of-8 from the field, looking physically uncomfortable at times; it’s unclear how much impact the injury may have had on him.

“I felt badly for our seniors… they battled for us, they’ve been mainstays for us, and it just wasn’t their night,” said Coen. “Masai had a terrific game, as well as a couple of the other sophomores… it’s promising for the future.”

Stony Brook’s high-powered offense finally clicked into gear in the second half, connecting on 5-of-9 threes and 15-of-17 free throws. Stephenson-Moore led the way with 13 second-half points and 21 overall, while Noll added nine for a game-high 23 and Clarke’s 12 gave him 19 on the night. 

“I was aggressive today, and I was making shots,” said Noll of his career-high performance. “It feels great [to win]… I’m just trying to take it one game at a time.”

Stony Brook will look ahead to Sunday’s quarterfinal matchup with Drexel, while Northeastern’s focus will turn towards the offseason. 

Thank you for following along with Northeastern men’s basketball on WRBB this season, and we’ll see you back at Matthews this coming fall.