Men’s Basketball: In the record books

For head coach, Ron Everhart, senior day is always bittersweet. Any way it is looked at, it’s never easy saying goodbye, and words always seem to fall short.

“It really is kind of a real big kick in the gut,” Everhart said. “On one hand you’re proud of these guys. They’re graduating from college, they’re gonna get degrees. They’ve been here, they’ve worked hard and they’ve studied. On the other hand, you realize the next time I’m back in this arena coaching a basketball game, these guys aren’t gonna be on our team.”

It’s hard to say when the magnitude of Saturday’s 92-79 win over visiting Rider will be felt on Huntington Avenue. When it sinks in that senior guard Jose Juan Barea, an NBA draft candidate, has played his final game in a Husky home jersey.

“It’s been very good,” Barea said. “It was a great game and I can’t believe it was my last. I’ve been here for four years and Northeastern’s been such a big part of my life. I’m happy with how I’ve finished and everything I’ve done here.”

In storybook fashion, Barea went out with a bang, passing Pete Harris on the all-time scoring list and taking his place in NU history as the second all-time leading scorer – trailing only the late Reggie Lewis.

“It’s a great thing,” Barea said. “Pete Harris is a great player, and obviously Reggie Lewis is uncatchable, but it’s something I’ve been working hard to accomplish.”

Although the final score might not indicate it, the game wasn’t a two-hour farewell to the four Husky seniors. It was actually a tight contest for the first half, as the Huskies led by just one point at the break.

“I was very worried about this team coming in,” Everhart said. “They are really well-coached. Our deal was in the first half we gave up 63 percent because we were trying to pressure the ball and they continued to back cut and back cut, just like we like to do to everybody else.”

The Broncos went 17-for-27 in the first frame while the Huskies hit just 13-of-34 shots. The Husky’s over-aggressive ball defense led to easy buckets for Rider and nullified Northeastern’s six three-pointers.

But the second half was a different story, as NU took over the game with a 22-5 run in the first 10 minutes of the half, hitting 8-of-13 shots.

Overall, NU shot 62.5 percent from the floor in the second half.

The Huskies used a balanced offensive attack, with five players scoring in double figures. Barea led all scorers with 27 points and 11 assists, while sophomore forward Shawn James notched his eighth double-double of the season, posting 13 points and 11 rebounds as well as six blocked shots. Senior forward Janon Cole and senior guard Aaron Davis scored in double figures, with 11 points and 13 points, respectively, while junior guard Bobby Kelly hit 4-of-5 shots for 13 points.

Thursday’s game against James Madison was the last chance for the Huskies to earn a Colonial Athletic Association win in the comforts of Matthews Arena, and the they did just that, with a 77-55 drubbing of the Dukes.

After two disappointing games in which James combined for just 13 points, eight rebounds and nine blocks, James bounced back to record his fourth-career triple-double with 17 points, 14 rebounds and 11 blocked shots. He also moved into second place on the CAA single-season blocks list, trailing only David Robinson’s NCAA record with 207 blocks in 1985-86. With 160 blocks this season, James is just four blocks shy of 300 for his career.

Barea led the Huskies in scoring for the 18th time this season with 23 points, and added six assists. The guard has led the team in scoring 66 times in his career, or 62 percent of the games he’s played in.

“[We lose players] every year, but this year, for some reason, with [Barea] and [Davis] especially because they’ve been such a big part of everything that we’ve done, they’ve been starters since day one,” Everhart said. “From a coaching perspective, now your real job starts in trying to help these guys further move on in their lives.”

The Huskies hit the road for the final two games in the season against Delaware and Towson. The Huskies are currently fifth in the CAA standings and will most likely need to win the rest of the games if they hope to secure a top-four finish and a first round bye in the conference tournament that begins March 3.

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