Men’s Basketball: Huskies come up empty against conference’s best

Men’s Basketball: Huskies come up empty against conference’s best

After stringing together wins against Hofstra and Georgia State for its first winning streak of the season, the men’s basketball team went up against two of the best teams in the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) on the road and came back to Boston having lost both games.

“It’s clear we aren’t playing with the same energy on the road, which is fairly common throughout college basketball,” said head coach Bill Coen. “To be a good basketball team you have to be able to find a way to win on the road. We’re just not at that point right now. Hopefully by the end of the season we’ll get some answers on the road.”

Northeastern visited Drexel (14-4, 6-2 CAA) last Wednesday and played a tough first half before the Dragons steamrolled NU in the final 20 minutes for the 67-47 victory.

“Drexel is an extremely physical team,” Coen said. “Their defensive pressure is very disruptive in the passing lanes. Their defense created offensive opportunities. They are one of the best defensive teams in the CAA.”

Northeastern was down by seven at the half (32-25), but the Drexel defense forced 18 Husky turnovers and allowed the Huskies only 16 points in the second half. NU shot 6-of-22 in the second period, led by senior forward Bennet Davis who finished the night with a team-high 11 points.

Freshman Matt Janning tallied 10 points and seven rebounds as he continues to improve throughout his rookie campaign.

“Matt has steadily improved this season,” Coen said. “There was a period where he hit a plateau – whether that was from physical or mental fatigue, his approach stayed the same. He takes a lot of pride in improving daily.”

Northeastern visited last year’s NCAA Cinderella team George Mason (11-7, 5-3 CAA) on Saturday. Again the Huskies were able to compete through the first half.

Senior co-captain Adrian Martinez scored all 15 of his points in the first half on five three-pointers, to give the Huskies a 25-24 lead with 6:32 left in the half. The Patriots retaliated with a 12-0 run to take a 36-30 lead into the locker room at the midway point.

GMU took a quick 15-point lead in the second half and held NU to just 28 percent shooting in the final 20 minutes. The Huskies were outscored 42-23 in the second half to fall 78-53.

“George Mason is playing their best basketball of the year right now with some lineup changes,” Coen said. “[Senior] Will Thomas was just too much for us to handle; he is a very efficient low post player. We tried all of our front court players but we weren’t effective. That can be attributed to their balance – we couldn’t double team Thomas because it leaves someone else with a wide open shot.”

Coen said the team will have to find a way to limit Thomas, who finished the game with 20 points, when the Patriots come to Matthews Arena Feb. 24.

“When we face them at home we are going to have to try some different approaches,” he said.

Northeastern returns home tonight, where they are 5-1 to face James Madison at 7 p.m. The Dukes will take a two-game run into tonight’s game after beating Georgia State, 59-52, Saturday in Atlanta.

Saturday’s JMU victory followed a 72-65 home win Wednesday over Old Dominion, and raised the Dukes’ overall record to 6-12 and their CAA mark to 3-5.

“James Madison is playing better of late, with a very good road win over Georgia State,” Coen said. “They have been very competitive with an undersized lineup and they are very active on the backboards.”

Delaware comes to NU for a 1 p.m. game Saturday. The Fighting Blue Hens are 3-16 (1-7 CAA) for last place in the conference, but boast the CAA’s fourth-leading scorer, junior Herb Courtney, who averages 18.1 points per game.

Despite Delaware’s record, Coen said it is not a team the Huskies can take lightly.

“I don’t know if where we’re at, we can take a light approach with anyone,” Coen said. “We have to respect every opponent but fear none.”

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